It suddenly occurred to me at scrimmage practice this week that I wasn't afraid any more. At first I was the usual bundle of jitters, avoiding lining up so I wouldn't have to go in, obsessively going over in my head what I always do wrong. But after the 2nd half, it suddenly struck me - I was no longer terrified. I started scrimmaging in November of last year, and up until now it's been a vicious cycle of confusion, fear of getting knocked down, frustration at seeing what I'm supposed to be doing and not doing that, and elation when something clicks and I figure out what I'm doing. I've never looked forward to scrimmaging and the thought of it usually made me want to turn around and go home. It's difficult training for something for months and finally being able to do it, and realizing how much harder it is than you'd ever thought it would be. Oh yeah - and the fact that you can never get better unless you keep doing that thing you're terrified of.
Luckily I was warned at my first scrimmage that it would be the worst I'd ever feel in derby. All of a sudden so much would be going on and I'd feel like a big, slow-moving target, teasing the other team to take me down. And that's exactly how I felt (unfortunately, that scrimmage just happened to be opened to friends and potential skaters, too, so everyone could see the trouble I was having). Since then I've tried to convince myself that I get a little better every time. Or that if I just finish one jam having done one thing right, I'll be okay. And luckily, I got drafted to a team that doesn't yell at me too much when I do something wrong.
So I'm not saying I'm magically better and that it still won't be hard as shit to improve at derby, but I can proudly say I'm no longer scared. I've met a couple of fresh meats out there who avoided scrimmaging altogether once they were eligible, sometimes putting it off for months. I just want to let them know - it does get better, it does start to click!
And I'll pass along the best advice I've gotten recently -
Don't say "sorry" when you hit me, say "SHAZAAM!"