Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I wore this everywhere I went.
What I learned from my weekend watching the North Central Regionals…

-Drinking leads to hangovers…

During the Thunda on the Tundra bouts, the teams were extremely good at controlling the pace of the pack, and to EXCESSIVE extents. This is often a productive technique mid-jam, usually by trapping a player from the other team so that the rest of the opposing players could potentially fall out of play if they speed away or slow down.

At regionals… ugh. As soon as the first whistle blew, one team would take it upon themselves not to budge from the line, trapping the other team behind them. The jammer whistle cannot sound until the pack passes the pivot line, leaving the jammers waiting helplessly at the back, with the clock running down. I can see where this technique could be a handy tool to keep in your tool box, but to pull it out EVERY SINGLE JAM, got to be quite obnoxious. It only seemed good for wasting the clock, which one team successfully burned a whole minute doing.  The one way out of this was if the trapped team could not get around the stalled blockers, they could scoot backwards towards the jam line until there is “no pack,” and then the jam whistle would sound.

Picture from a June bout, Denver vs Rat City, illustrating the chaos of a pack.
I understand strategy, I understand plans to control the pack, but it seemed to be an unsettling trend of rule manipulation; instead of just playing the game, they were using the game against each other. I would say most of the time it did not even work in their favor. As a jammer, stationary objects are a lot easier to avoid than moving obstacles. They often just sped around the blockers like rocks in the road since rocks have no momentum to positionally block.
Suzy Hotrod (sigh) pushes past a blocker
from a 2008 WFTDA nationals bout.

This was only when the teams were successful. It can be exhaustingly hard to get four girls to work together, especially when four other girls are disrupting you. The minute you lose that control, the whole pack shifts and you have to move on a dime to either regain control or reset and try something new. Roller derby is very fluid and you can plan out exactly what you want to do, but the jam will go however the jam goes.
Most of my bout viewing was focused on the jammers though, and trying to see what they did to slide through the pack. It is hard to really pinpoint a particular move or strategy, so it seems the best I can do is soak up their strides and movements and try to imitate them on the track. I have improved my stepping from watching the Gotham vs Rat City bout last month and focusing on Suzy Hotrod (sigh).

Random interwebs picture.. proof that nothing can stop the ambitious jammer... from trying.
During Thunda it was evident that jammers may actually be the strongest players on the track. Not only are they spending all their energy GO-GO-GO-ing, speeding through numerous laps, but they have to move side to side while doing it, pushing by blockers and taking hard hits. For me, all is well in the GO-GO-Going department, it is the minute someone gets in my way that I lose all momentum and fail. These WFTDA girls are able to just push through their obstacles, and legally! It is about finding the smallest hole, wedging a shoulder or a leg through, and then pushing a blocker away as you move past. It is such an insane power to witness that I start to feel like such a weak skater in comparison. I know I can maneuver and change directions in a split second, but I often chicken out and just try to go around all the obstacles instead of through them. The quickest way from point A to point B is straight ahead…

A week from Saturday a few of us from OCCRG are heading up to visit our mentors, (and #2 North Central Regional champs!) at the Minnesota Roller Girl’s bootcamp. We have been warned to begin hydrating now for the dry land drills… I am beginning to anticipate what kind of pain I will be in, and I can’t wait.  

What was the third thing I learned? Hmm, I forget. My memory is kind of fuzzy…


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