Welcome to the first in hopefully a series of five blogs in which we'll break down the five different positions a team may field during a jam. Since each team has different language and names for the position we will try to make our breakdowns as basic as possible.
Today's blog will focus on the No. 1 position, or the general pivot position.
The No. 1 generally holds the front-inside position.
"We just call it Pivot," says Erica "Hoosier Mama" Jones of Windy City Rollers. "Pretty much the last line of defense — Keeping that front on lock down to prevent the exit of the opposing jammer."
The players wearing the pivot cover (striped helmet cover) have first right to the pivot line, a clearly marked line that extends from the inside track boundary to the outside boundary. Pivots are the only players who may line up on the pivot line, although neither is required to do so. If any pivot lines up on the pivot line, all other non-pivot skaters (this includes friendly and opposing players) must line up behind her hips.
Again, the pivot is not required to line up at the front of the pack, nor do the rules specify that the pivot must stay at the top of the pack. Some pivots will fall back into the pack, or hang out on the outside of the pack.
Pivots sometimes are likened to the pace cars in a jam.
"Pivot also acts as the person who controls the pack and its speed," says Jones, who's skated with WCR since 2006. "The pivot can work with the back blocker as a great communicator since she can keep her head turned and see all that is happening or is going to happen and relay it to her team. She has room up there for more movement which gives her a few more seconds to take a look around at what's occurring."
Knowing when to speed the pack up versus slowing it down can be intimidating for a newer skater. The position is generally reserved for more experienced skaters who understand her team's focus and all the avenues of gameplay occurring on the fly.
"It gets difficult in the front when most of the action is occurring in the back," Jones says.
"The pivot really has to make smart plays so she doesn't take herself too far out of position and leave the front wide open for the opposing to team to take over, Sometimes as a pivot you can feel a bit useless while you're 'waiting' for that opposing jammer to get near you. You definitely have to make smart moves in order to keep your pack under control. It can be more of a thinker position."
But the position isn't without its benefits.
"I like having more room for movement in the front of the pack," Jones says. "Mid-pack and back pack tend to get a little tight."
"While in the front I have the opportunity to cover more track and get to where I need/want to be quicker," she says. "I like the feeling of making that one move that helps your jammer bust out of the front of that pack and get lead or hit the track for another scoring pass. Usually by the time that opposing jammer gets to you her speed has been impeded by your players and all the chaos in the pack so you don't have to scramble as much to stop her, slow her down, etc."
A team's pivot is also the only player who may receive a "star pass" from her jammer. The star pass is when the jammer physically hands the star cover to the pivot, who then puts the star cover over the top of her pivot cover. Often considered the "Hail, Mary" of roller derby, a jammer may decide to pass the star because she's tired, she is in penalty trouble, or the pivot may be in a better position to score points.
Only the jammer may hand the cover to the pivot. The star may not be thrown. If the star is dropped, only the pivot or the jammer may pick it up. The opposing team may block a star pass as long as it uses legal blocking techniques.
Jones has some advice for any skater looking to work on her Pivot abilities.
Work on your lateral moves! The more you move forward the less room you are giving yourself to work with at the front. Pushing/chasing too far out will defeat any plays your team has made towards that opposing jammer and/or pack. Try to avoid going after useless blocks on opposing blockers. Make your moves/blocks count because if you miss or slip up there usually isn't anyone in front of you to pick up your slack. You tend to be your jammers best friend so work on your timing. You're like the gate keeper in a sense haha. Realize that you may not be the one making those awesome huge knock down take out hits all the time."
Other Pivots to watch:
Sk8r-Kinney-Cincinnati Roller Girls
Dolly Rocket - Charm City Roller Girls
Sassy - Oly Rollers
Mobi-wan Kenobi - Rose City Rollers
Shenita Stretcher - Philly Roller Girls
Read the rest of the series:
By the position – An intro
By the position – Pivot/No. 1
By the position – No. 2
By the position – No. 3
By the position – No. 4
By the position – Jammer/No. 5
Skate Log Forum — Pivot Tips
Gotham Girls Roller Derby — What does a pivot do?
Bright Hub — What does the Pivot do?