letters from bruisey | mental toughness

{Our own Bruisey Ricardo with a stellar lateral block!}

Bruisey just posted this letter to our team. I love it SO much that I decided it needed to be shared here too for all of derbydom to read and be inspired by.

Hello, ladies of CFDD! This is the longest post ever, but my derby wheels have been turning since last night’s “Workout Wednesday with Pushie!” I had Fresh Meat in mind while type-vomiting this, but it’s really for anyone. It’s cheesy, but I think it makes sense.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the “mental toughness” required in Derbyland. And not just in Derbyland – but in any sort of physically demanding activity we put our bodies through. Any sport, any outside training, etc. What spawned these thoughts were my own mental and physical reactions, and then I started questioning them: Why do I keep going even though I want to stop? What am I doing to push myself? What’s going on in my spastic mind that just works? And then a fellow derby girl that I follow on tumblr posted something:

Mental Toughness
After a particularly rough patch last season I started getting really interested in Sports Psychology. I read a bunch of books, researched online, and participated in an awesome Bonnie D. Stroir off skates lecture.

It really floored me how much of athletics relies on your mental state. Especially in derby; a lot of things are happening at once, minor and major penalty calls, switching from offence to defence. etc. Even with just training and perform at you athletic best. All of these things require mental toughness.

I don’t know where I would be right now if I hadn’t read those books. It was a huge lightbulb moment for me and I have already improved greatly this season.

To stay mentally tough I work on: positive visualization, practice positive self talk, I keep a practice journal to write out my thoughts and feelings after training. Another big thing that keeps me mentally tough is cross training – knowing that I am fit enough to perform the tasks that I need to do.

I always strive to practice as hard as I play and I don’t make excuses.

If you are interested in some Sports Psychology books I reccomend:

Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack
In Pursuit of Excellence: How to Win in Sport and Life through Mental Training by Terry Orlick


I’ll be honest: I’m probably not going to read those books. I don’t have the patience for that sort of literature. BUT!

Positive visualization: SEE where you want to be, what you want to do, how you’ll get there. Don’t look at the things you’re not good at as failures – look at them as things you need to improve on. Make that your GOAL at every practice. Make small, short-term goals to work toward an ultimate goal. Don’t set yourself up for failure with unattainable goals: BABY STEPS!

Positive self-talk: I’ve heard girls mumbling all sorts of things under their breath at practice. Even if it’s just a silly phrase that makes you laugh and remember that derby is supposed to be FUN. Or a phrase that reminds you of your ultimate goal. Or something as dumb as mine: “BRUZY HOTROD BRUZY HOTROD BRUZY HOTROD!” (Thanks, OCDiva!) Don’t be so hard on yourselves. Negativity gets you nowhere.

Keep a practice journal: Write your goals down and update after practice or outside training. Create a blog specifically for recording your progress. Putting anything in writing makes it so much harder to back out of, especially if you have readers. Share it with your derby wife or big sister to help keep you motivated.

Use your derby wife and/or big sister: They’re there for you and you should be there for them too. Sometimes it just takes a word or two of advice or encouragement to tweak and perfect a skill you’re struggling with.

You’re going to fail, fall, bust your ass, get laid out, score ZERO points, go to the penalty box, piss your teammates off, get pissed off at your teammates, get yelled at, and probably cry at some point. Stay positive, don’t lose focus of your goals, and keep digging those wheels in to the floor. Eventually, you’ll skate fast, hit hard, lay some bitches out, score grand slams, still go to the penalty box (it happens!), and love your teammates more and more with every win or loss. STAY POSITIVE, work hard, and stay mentally tough by knowing what you’re capable of and knowing how to get to where you need to be to do things you need to do.

That’s been my day, in a nutshell. I think I need another hobby.


There you have it. Don’t you feel just so warm and fuzzy and POSITIVE right now? Thanks Bruisey for sharing the love! See you on the track sister!

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