Stop, Jammer time!

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I played in two games this past weekend, and jammed for the majority of the time. As someone who has been a blocker for nearly 6 years with no breaks, jamming feels like a whole new ball game. ūüėČ I am accustomed to the joys of stopping a jammer, of busting up walls, and essentially being a brick wall. I can see how some of those things will make jamming challenging, yet also maybe give me a slight advantage in some scenarios. What I am not accustomed to however, is getting the snot beat out of me non-stop… so that’ll take some getting used to.

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**sorry for the fuzz, but I HAD to share this pic. See that smile?

One of the teams we played had a lot of heavy hitters, and they play with an old skool mindset of big hits, waterfall hits, and the occasional “Fuck off!”, haha! It’s fun to play like that, but after playing for a WFTDA charter team for years and having the opportunity to play high level teams like Terminal City and Rat City, I’m definitely not used to the crazy ass hits¬†at all, but particularly as a¬†jammer. I spent a lot of time on the floor, but I did get up every single time… and often with a smile. I got through every time, I got lead enough to keep me happy, I scored points, and I never gave up. I keep telling myself,¬†it’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up. And on a personal level, every single time I get up, I win.

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So after some self evaluation, here are the top three things I think I need to work on, and if you’re switching from blocking to jamming, you may need to as well:

1.  Roll off those hits

  • One of my team mates on the weekend gave me a few good pointers for jamming. She said that she goes limp and just sort of bounces and rolls off hits, instead of bracing herself. This makes so much sense. As a blocker, I focus on standing my ground, strong and fierce, not letting anyone move me… but as a jammer, if I treat hits in that same fashion, I will lose all my energy. Plus, it’s different… trying to get out of a pack fast and also hit bitches (I mean that in the most¬†endearing way possible) to the floor is not going to work in my favour. So, first thing I need to work on is rolling off or with hits and also breathing through them.

2. Endurance and Stamina

  • I’m sure this comes with no surprise, but jamming is extremely tiring. I need to find a way to up my stamina and endurance, along with my¬†speed. I’m already cross training like a boss, so I’m thinking maybe adding running could be the answer. My partner runs 5K pretty often and times herself, and I should probably join her more often. I figure that’s a decent way to track progress.

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3. Agility

  • One of the things I tried to work on during the games I jammed in, was baiting to the outside, hockey stopping, and running in. It worked if I could execute it properly, but the problem was that I was often feeling so tired, that a hard hockey stop just didn’t appeal to me at all, haha. Note to self: find agility drills and work on them.

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Of course all jammers need to work on those 3 things, for sure, but having the blocking mindset so solid in my brain, I almost need to rewire what my brain does without even thinking. It’s going to take a lot of conscious effort to not just go full steam in to a hit, but I figure with enough practice, I should be able to sort that out…hopefully.

Overall, I’m happy with my first official games playing as a jammer. I have a long ways to go, but I’m okay with where I’m starting. I blocked some too, so I got to experience the satisfaction of stopping someone else and knocking them around a little. ūüėČ And that is always a good feeling.

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How roller derby can make you a better driver

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I am convinced that playing roller derby can make you a better driver. Actually, I should be more specific. If you pay attention to track awareness in roller derby, that will help you with driving, and potentially vice versa.

The other day I was driving with someone, and they went to change lanes without noticing that there was a merge lane on the other side of that lane. There was another vehicle that would soon be forced to move in to the same lane we were about to change in to. I had to say something, even though I hate being a back seat driver, as I didn’t want to be in an accident that day. It was after that incident though that I started really noticing the similarities between driving and roller derby though.

Since I started playing derby in 2010, I always left practice and would drive as if I was still playing derby all the way home. This is pretty common with derby players, and is basically an overflowing of the practice mojo on to the streets. We are all jammers on the road. BUT… what if there is more to it than that? Well, there is.

Whenever I drive, I know where all the vehicles are, and I am running scenarios in my mind of what they may do, whether it be changing lanes, merging, turning, speeding up, slowing down, whatever. I check for cars, then I double check and triple check. I know where everyone is at all times… or at least this is what I think I’m doing. I gauge distance and speed and determine how fast I need to go in order to pass someone and not get blocked in. This is just what I do.

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And then after my most recent incident, it dawned on me. My track awareness skills and continued work on track awareness crosses over to road awareness. For real reals.

So there you have it. If you want to become a better driver, join roller derby!

 

Roll Bounce Gang

About a month or so ago, I watched the movie “Roll Bounce.” So first off, if you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend watching it. Be warned though… it may make you want to start a Roll Bounce Gang. Or maybe not. But just be warned.

I grew up skating at Lloyds Roller rink in Calgary, AB, and I am lucky enough that it is still around. It is still the place to be if you wanna get your roll on. And it still has the same decor and disco balls from when I used to frequent the rink in the 80s. I take the kids there once a week, and now I go by myself one night a week as well. Why you ask? To start a roll bounce gang of course.

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This was my first game ever in 2010, and it was the first time I ever jammed. Holy shitsnacks was I ever nervous. I did not love it.

I have decided that this year is the year that I am going to jam. I will jam and block, but I will be intentionally working on my jamming skills and never turn down an opportunity to jam and learn. So in my quest to build my jam skills, I approached a good derby friend and asked him for some mentorship. He is an old school jam skater who naturally fell in to the jammer role once he found derby. And he can roll bounce like nobody’s business.

I met with him last Monday night, and he skated around with me and chatted about the art of jamming, along with the art of roll bouncing. A fast song comes on and he says, “just follow me as close as possible, and do what I do.” All my trust was put in him to lead the way as we whipped around that rink rolling, bouncing, dodging roller rink patrons and narrowly squeezing through people who leave an inch for us to get by. It was terrifying, and yet invigorating. We were flying… and I wasn’t scared.

I feel like it’s important to say that this kind of skating is not done full of derby gear. As someone who has skated my entire life at Lloyds, I have never worn gear there. In fact, the only time I wear gear is when I’m playing derby, practicing derby, or skating outside. I don’t skate derby at roller rinks…. I skate differently. I have caution, control, and maybe even a little bounce. I dance and sing, and that is just how I roll. So the terrifying part comes from this. I was not ready for a fall, and I made damn sure a fall didn’t happen. But that meant taking risks and working on one foot balance and agility, and stops. Oh the stops. You must be able to stop (or change direction) on a dime if you don’t want to fall at a roller rink.

And this is the beginning of our roll bounce gang journey. We skate in a line, all rolling and bouncing in sync, grinning from ear to ear, and all relying on the person in front of us to guide us safely around the rink and between the other skaters. I love it. And this is part of my journey to becoming a jammer. And how I fit derby in my life, even if it’s not technically¬†derby.