Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Post-Back in Black

The bout against Iowa City's Old Capitol Roller Girls was awesome. I'm constantly in awe of how much professionalism and sportsmanship they have.

We lost 191-83, but considering we into the intermission 107-33, we had a better second half. If we had that kind of output in the first, the final scores would have been closer for sure.

Old Capitol locked on a pretty hardy defense in the first half, and their steady stream of jammers kept pulling away in the early jams. I think Iowa City scored something like 22 points before we were able to get on the board, which took about four or five minutes. That kind of deficit can be pretty intimidating, but the important thing was to never give up.

We never really lost sight of our goal, which was to see how we matched up against Iowa City compared with the last time we met them in October. Since that game, we'd played Eastern Iowa, Rockford and Peoria in pretty solid contests, only losing by 3 points to Rockford in our second matchup with the Ragdolls.

The Iowa City bout was a good test for us as we play Eastern Iowa again on March 26, and then we head up to Madison on April 2.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Destroying a slow pack

From Queen of the Rink:

Go ahead and watch the video first.

OK, my response to someone's link on Facebook:
What you have to pay attention is that Black wants a slow pack. They are killing time for their blocker in the box. Black keeps the pack start slow to eat penalty time for their blocker, who then comes in for a big hit. Unfortunately the title is misleading. Black isn't the one that wants to destroy the slow pack. Black wants the slow pack start. What's funny is that White seems completely unaware of it.

OK, now my two cents:
Queen of the Rink has published blogs on how the rules and referees have (negatively?) impacted the sport of roller derby. A proponent for traditional, forward-moving derby, the blog posted this video of someone "Destroying" a slow start. 

There are plenty of ways to destroy a slow pack start, but they involve using rules that dictate pack structure, something many people argue is simultaneously ruining derby.

If someone wants to hate on "slow derby" don't use a video that actually promotes the use of "slow derby" to a distinct advantage. In the video, Black clearly wants a slow start to kill penalty time for their blocker who, upon her return to the track, blasts an opposing White player -- which starts the jammers and essentially giving the Black jammer a clear advantage and quick "lead jammer" designation.

I don't always think that "Slow derby" is the best thing in the world, but if a team can utilize both "Slow derby" and "Fast derby," they'll have a greater advantage over a team that only wants to play one way.

We don't practice "slow derby" or "fast derby." We break down pack situations and how we can control them. Sometimes it's via a slow pack speed and sometimes it's through a fast pack speed, but understanding both helps us utilize and hopefully hinder each.

(NOTE: I don't hate Queen of the Rink. I actually like it. The blog usually has pretty solid arguments for its opinions. This one just struck me as odd because the title is slightly misleading.) 

(And maybe I'll put together a list of characteristics of slow derby and fast derby. Hmmm, blog idea?)

'shit skaters dont tell you'

From Randi Maehym:
"This snow angel shit in the middle of the track has got to stop."


My aside and why coaching and working with new(er) skaters is so important

I always look for perspectives from new to intermediate skaters because after being in derby for three years you tend to take certain things for granted. It's usually only after we see a new skater make a mistake that we say "didn't anyone ever teach you ..."

The blank stare is your obvious clue that no one did, in fact, teach this poor girl how to: fall small, don't push up from the ground with your fingers, always look around you, keep your feet moving, exhale before you take/give a big hit, hold the inside, watch for their jammer, watch for your jammer, communicate ... breathe. ;) 

We also take for granted that there is so much to learn in derby when you're new that it's hard to remember everything.

Vets have the same tendency to take things for granted. Coaching is a great way for us to remember the little things that are just as important as complex strategy.

If you are a new(er) skater and you truly have a passion to learn the sport, start talking to people. Talk to the coaching/training staff or find a buddy who has been skating for awhile. These people are invaluable to you becoming better.

Now ... this is not to say that if you try to cozy up to a veteran skater you won't get rebuffed. Vets can be a little gruff with newer skaters because, honestly, we've seen so many women walk out the same door they came in without much of an effort. Many women (and men) will come into your practice thinking it will be easy (and for about 5-10 percent it might be) only to give up after being frustrated or upset that "Skater X doesn't like me."

Derby isn't a popularity contest (or, it shouldn't be). Those of us that are in this sport and have been in it for some time aren't in this to make new friends. We have a compound goal of becoming better and, eventually, getting a few wins out of it.

If you are a new skater and you do try to get friendly with a vet, don't take it personal if she doesn't automatically free up her schedule to meet you for tea and cake. 

We will try and help you when we can, but it's hard to invest in a person when you have know idea whether she'll quit next week.

Continue to prove yourself by dedicating your time and energy to a thing that she loves and she will likely come around. And if she doesn't, there's always the skater next to her.

(NOTE: For a while, we were using a buddy system of Bigs and Littles. We had so many new girls come in at once that it was nearly impossible to help all of them at once. By pairing them up with a vet on the team it was easier to disseminate information to them. Not all vets participated. We're not all warm and fuzzy. But you could see a distinct improvement between vet-newbie relations.)