Ranking Derby Teams

As the European roller derby scene grows and the skill levels of the top teams increase, the WFTDA rankings are sure to become a more and more important indicator, especially as success in those rankings will be a ticket to a whole new level of game play i.e. the championship games.

Roller derby as a sport is going through a period of metamorphosis during which both international organisations as well as national associations are trying to find their own place. Even the WFTDA rules are in competition with other roller derby rule sets but at least we can say that the teams that play under the WFTDA or MRDA rules have one thing in common: the rules. Each derby team has a different season and different culture. Some leagues play interleague bouts whereas others organize big tournaments or competitive tours. One thing we know for sure is that everyone wants to be the best. But how do we measure this?

Considering that not all leagues and teams, that play under the WFTDA and MRDA rules, are members of the international governing body and that mixed teams don’t even have the option of becoming members, it is difficult to determine how to rank these teams and especially how to compare the skill levels of the European all-star teams with their American counterparts. The answer is to develop a ranking-system based on bouts that the teams play. But because bouts are still arranged only occasionally and rather irregularly, the teams don’t necessarily fully know their opponents level and thus bouts may end up being pretty unequal matched. Therefore, the ranking system can’t just be based on the score difference. It is also important that the rankings also support the teams in picking their opponents. As a result, various ranking-lists have sprung up based on different formulas and it seems each one of them has something to offer. Some listings don’t compare the number of bouts won to the number of bouts played whereas some have split teams into different divisions, which don’t really reflect reality. At the moment, it seems a lot of people are talking about WFTDA’s new, division-based ranking system that also affects the seeding of WFTDA member leagues i.e. how the tournament places in the championships are distributed. As a result of the teams being split into different divisions, many teams are unwilling to play any opponents ranked lower than them because a surprise victory would mean a big drop in rankings. For example, this means that it doesn’t make sense for the London Rollergirls’ all-star team to play at all in Europe because LRG is ranked far above any other European leagues. So why have such a ranking system?

Mathematics instead of geography

The teams in the WFTDA championships have so far been selected on the basis of the leagues’ geographical location and playoff tournaments in North America. Until now, the playoffs regions were Eastern USA, Western USA as well as North Central and South Central USA and, at the WFTDA tournament in each region, 10 teams competed for three places at the championships, which are arranged every autumn. The regional split will still remain as there aren’t sufficiently many European member leagues competing at the top level to justify setting up a separate Europe-region. The teams from outside USA will compete in the region that they are geographically closest to, for example the European teams would belong in the Eastern region. After the geographical split was set up and up until 2013, WFTDA used voting-based rankings, which took into account the bouts each team played over the course of the year, to determine the placing of teams within a particular region. During 2013, the fully mathematical Competitive Division System stepped into play with the hopes of some day getting totally rid of the geography-based system.


Skating On A Motivational Roller Coaster

Do you remember why you wanted to try out and start roller derby? Are your reasons for playing still the same? Reasons tend to change quite drastically, in correlation with your development as a skater and team player. Knowing and understanding what your driving force in playing roller derby is key to understanding your motivation.
Channelling my motivation correctly in roller derby has been a bittersweet challenge from the start. It has gotten easier over the years and I'm happy to finally be able to say that I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. The major contributing factor has been all the feedback, comments and actions from my league mates. Another was questioning myself and my motives; why do I do this? I still ask myself that question all the time, thus I can keep my motivation pure and in check.
The foundation for your motivation lies in understanding it and recognizing its changes. The more you are aware of it the better you will be able to manage any decreases and further increase your motivation.

Types of motivation

There are two main categories of motivation in sports; internal or intrinsic, and external or extrinsic.

Intrinsic is characterized by the pure interest, enjoyment and ability to participate despite any unfavourable conditions.
E.g.: you love to practice, you promptly want to know any rule changes, you want to learn how your skates and gear operate, you are always trying to improve or develop your skating technique and strategic skills, you are able to stay motivated even when you are facing hard times, you love competing at any level and mostly with yourself.

Extrinsic is characterized by outside rewards and benefits such as recognition and prizes, self-imposed guilt and anxiety, and the need for better rewards to keep up motivation.
E.g.: you are training only to get on a team, you want to achieve recognition or an award after a bout, you want praise within the league, you hope to gain attention for being a 'derby girl', you only attend practice to avoid feeling guilty about yourself.

A third form of motivation is known as amotivation. Which is characterized by the lack of interest in the training process or outcome. Feelings of incompetence are often present and there is also a disconnection between behaviour and the desired outcome. Players who do not address amotivation promptly are likely to drop out.

Did you recognize yourself in any of the aforementioned examples? Fear not if you think you're categorized as a certain type of athlete. Motivational behaviour has a tendency to change over time and it is possible to possess all types of motivation at various times. Learn to develop and use different motivations to your advantage. It is normal that your motivation will keep on changing from time to time, taking the odd plunge every once in a while. But there are ways to overcome that.

Here is a structural example and tips on how I learned to identify and deal with my motivation.

Measuring motivation 
If you keep a training diary make a mark or write about your motivation level after every practice and bout.  Keep a simple scale measurement i.e. 1-5, and shortly described what might have contributed to it. When you notice a drop in your motivation level recognise what is causing it. 

Causes in motivational changes
There are a number of different reasons to changes in motivation, anything can be the cause. Such as not getting enough sleep, low fitness level, confidence issues, health issues, poor diet, major life changes, not passing your minimum skills, not making the team cut, major injuries, lack of time management, etc. There are as many reasons as there are players. Once you have pinpointed the reasons behind it try to assess if you have any control over the causes.

Addressing motivational changes
Once you have recognized the issues causing changes in your motivation, try to address those issues accordingly if you want to maintain a good level in your motivation. Focus on situations that you can control. If there are reasons beyond your control, either forget about them or give yourself permission and take time to readjust where needed. The first and foremost issues which I have complete control over is getting enough rest, eating well, cross training, and taking care of my body. When it comes to motivation and playing roller derby those go a long way. 

Maintaining motivation

Once you are aware of reasons behind motivational change think about your short or long term goals and consider if they need readjusting. Tell yourself where you want to be and what you want to achieve and in what time frame. Then focus on the nitty-gritty at practice, not on your goal. Be always mindful of where you want improvement and try to work on it when you can. Learn some self-discipline to get rid of any bad habits that conflict with your improvement. Never compare yourself to other athletes, strive to be better tomorrow than what you were yesterday.  Let go of failures after you’ve learned from them.

Increasing motivation

The more you learn, the better you will skate, thus your motivation will increase. Talk to your team mates, and coaches about your plans and ask for feedback and any tips on how to become better. Focus on simple tasks and breakdowns of techniques and skills which you are set out to learn. Tackle things that you find difficult to master, and learn them with patience. Surround yourself with highly motivated people as their energy will rub off on you. Learn to do things that are way out of your comfort zone, you will eventually master them comfortably. Sometimes we all need to take a day or two off to live life and it is ok to do that. Taking a short break will most likely increase your motivation.

Motivation is an ongoing roller coaster ride and at times it has made me ponder whether it is worth all the ups and downs. I came to the conclusion that every motivational low I have experienced over the years has been worth it. No matter how bad I felt, getting back up from a low is a learning process, and it feels great once you have gone through it. Every time I feel that I become a better person, skater and team player, and end up having much more fun.

Go be the best you can, and even better!!!

Adelle #3:33