Two weeks have passed since the Roller Derby World Cup and we are still flying high on the memories of the amount of great games we got to see in the period of only four days. During the World Cup the attending skaters, refs, announcers, photographers, volunteers all seemed to share a common agreement: the first day was the toughest. The 30 minute games seemed to be especially hectic and tiring. After day one was done we bet many people asked themselves how they would keep this up. We all witnessed that this was indeed possible – right up to the last, power packed minute of the finals between Team USA and Australia. But how do they do it?
As most leagues play at least one tournament during their roller derby season we decided to ask our STEAKS crew members how they survive tournament weekends. Coming up are their tips, which we hope will help you get through your next tournament.
Tip #1: Refuel properly
A tournament weekend always means you will be burning a ton of calories. If you do not refuel properly you cannot perform properly. Refueling properly means eating enough of the right things at the right time to give your body what it needs when you need it. For one STEAKS crew member this means protein shakes ready to go right after the game: “I always pre-pack protein shakes in baggies & a shaker cup to use right after games – food and nutrients are super critical to good recovery”.
Tip #2: Strategic fuel hunting
Protein shakes might not be for everyone and beforehand meal prepping might not be possible. If your tournament is taking place in a city you have never been to or have even flown to, you might not have proper fuel packed and you will have to organize your meals after arrival. Depending on the location this might not always be as easy as it sounds.
Nina Erwes recommends:“Know beforehand where the nearest grocery store is that carries your required snacks, meals, smoothies etc.” This will also prevent you having to survive on what the pizza place next door has to offer. Hit google maps while at home to find REAL grocery stores with REAL food. Nina also recommends: “Snacks!!!” Keep them on you at all times – in your bag, pockets, bum bag, wallet, everywhere!. While proper meals are important, you don’t know when a snack might come in handy.
Tip #3: Hydrate good! Hydrate early!
Do you have an app on your phone that reminds you when to drink during the day? Then pay very good attention for this next tip:
“Start hydrating ahead of time (like a week) and make sure you have plenty of water during the event. Hydration is critical to recover, and you can’t get hydrated at the event if you’re dehydrated coming in”, one of our skaters recommends.
For anyone wanting to read more on the subject we recommend checking out this great article, which basically says: “Trust your pee!”
Tip #4: Be kind to your muscles!
No matter how much you train, playing several games a day over the course of two or even four days will tire out the fittest athlete. The good news is that you can do more than eat well and just be in bed on time to speed up muscle recovery. Some athletes turn to Blackroll a painful bliss that will keep your fasciae elastic, breaking up knots that can lead to sore muscles. Stretching can also be very helpful and can prevent future injuries. One STEAKS crew member likes to stretch right after games, while another has a love/hate relationship with ice baths.
There are many ways to treat your muscles kindly and there is a lot of information out there on the pros and cons of each method. If you are heading to a tournament we would recommend to try out various methods beforehand and use your favorite one when it’s time to perform!
Tip #5 – Stay comfortable!
Another important tip from Nina Erwes is to be sure to have what you need to be comfortable: “Staying away from home and hanging around in the venue all day long can be tricky and exhausting. Don’t forget the basic habits you have that help you relax and feel comfortable. Bring your sweatpants, woolen socks, chamomile tea, foam roller, magnesium and electrolyte tablets, and just in case – melatonin, earplugs, sleeping mask, pain killers.“
For some the acoustic level during World Cup added an extra layer of stress to an already stressful situation. Others did not seem to be bothered by it or even enjoyed it. What you find (un-) comfortable can be very subjective. So remember to write down what made you uncomfortable as a viewer at this World Cup and remember to bring what you would have loved to have to the next tournament you will actively participating in. The skater/ref/announcer/photographer/volunteer-you will thank the viewer-you for that.
Tip #6 – Arrive early to combat time change!
Our STEAKS crew came from near and far to participate in the Roller Derby World Cup. As soon as you are traveling to a different time zone there is one more aspect to consider: JETLAG! Falcon Punch, who had to deal with a 6 hour time difference, recommends to count one recovery day for every hour of jet lag. Don’t have that kind of time? Falcon’s second tip is to „rise with the sun“. So even if you only manage to arrive one or two days before the event: get up early, head out (to prevent sudden naps) and spend a day or two enjoying the city you – come tournament day – won’t have the time to check out anyways.
We hope these tips will help you survive your next tournament. If you have tips of your own we and surely also your fellow skaters reading this blog would love to hear about them in the comments.