The WFTDA have announced this week that the next update of the WFTDA Minimum Skills Requirements will include skills of emotional intelligence and common sense in addition to the currently listed skating and contact skills.
WFTDA spokesperson Wheatley commented:
“We need to keep the required skill set relevant to evolving game play.”
The last update to the Minimum Skills Requirements saw the addition of further backwards skating skills and removal of outdated practices such as baseball slides.
“The upcoming version of the Minimum Skills Requirements will see similar changes. We did our research and found that emotional intelligence and common sense are some of the technical skills that currently present the greatest hurdle for skaters. A lack of these skills holds skaters back from progressing and it presents a safety issue.”
The Minimum Skills Requirements present an important rite of passage for roller derby players. WFTDA member leagues are required to assess all charter team skaters, who must pass both this set of skills as well as the WFTDA Skater Rules Test in order to compete in WFTDA-sanctioned games. These tests are taken very seriously by leagues around the world. Team captains have to certify that all testing is complete when submitting WFTDA team charters and game sanctioning applications.
Wheatley explained further:
“Ultimately, these updates are for the safety of the skaters and those around them. We believe that skaters cannot safely partake in contact game play and scrimmage without having demonstrated skills such as speed control and not expecting constant validation and congratulation.”
“We feel confident that this is what our members want. The WFTDA Training Committee has developed this new set of the Minimum Skills Requirements in tandem with WFTDA member leagues and WFTDA Risk Management. Just as with past versions, this new set of standards was beta tested and voted in by WFTDA membership.”
Act Your Rage is a player and coach with the Derpshire Rollergirls, one of the leagues involved in the beta testing of the new Minimum Skills Requirements. She felt positively about the changes: “We very much welcome this move. We definitely think that skills of emotional intelligence and common sense are needed to play modern roller derby. In each season we, as a league, have had to add both physical and mental skills to our tool box. You cannot execute a Rose City wall without good backwards skating and you cannot be on a travel team without a minimal level of emotional resilience and an ability to handle the ups and downs of a competitive sport.”
“This is an important part of making derby a more serious sport. We just cannot have players who are unable to make it through a practice session without crying because they are not famous yet, if we want to be taken seriously in our athleticism.”
“We run a fresh meat programme for six months where we teach these skills to beginners. Just like we have seen with the physical techniques, some people struggle with emotional intelligence and common sense. We find that those who have a background in practicing these skills tend to do better initially.”
“Overall, we very much think that this is a move in the right direction. But we are also still facing some challenges in coaching these skills. For example, we are always looking for new and better ways to teach T-stops and not making it all about yourself.”
Mary, a skater participating in the current Derpshire Fresh Meat programme, commented:
“It’s so hard. I’ve had to redo the course several times. I’ve passed the 27 in 5 endurance test, but to pass my min skills I still need to learn how not to blame others for my lack of progress.”
Act Your Rage shared some of the tips she gives to skaters:
“Just as with skating techniques, you will need to practice these things over and over until you nail them.”
“You can practice them at home while you watch TV or brush your teeth. Stand on one leg or in derby stance and visualise not shouting at players and referees when you are sent to the penalty box.”
“Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do it first time, just keep working at it.”
“Also, importantly, don’t be a dick.”