I had a conversation with a visiting referee from Cajun Rollergirls on Wednesday, in which he recounted penalty wrangling for a Texas home team bout featuring a team of veterans.
In that bout, the team deliberately didn't poodle (intentionally picking up their fourth minor through an False Start Illegal Procedure). Instead the team would somehow play and pick up fourth minors through regular game play.
I marveled at such a feat, essentially playing the game at an extremely high level and having the control to pick up your fourth minor during a jam, rather than intentionally pick it up at the beginning at the jam.
Both strategies have their merit, but the level of play that it takes to pick up your fourth through game play just astounded to me.
I guess in a world of minors that will soon end, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I'm incredibly excited when we refuse to allow something as simple as a minor penalty affect strategy or game play.
Last night we played Mid Iowa Rollers. We had scouted them pretty hard a few weeks back when they played and defeated Iowa City's Old Capitol City Roller Girls, and developed our own strategies based on a few miscues from OCCRG.
What we didn't practice was picking up our fourth minor during game play.
We didn't win. But then again we did way better than I thought we would. We managed to force them to play derby.
Our two top jammers in rotation would start to pick up their minors and it eventually came time to decide whether to poodle them or let them skate. It was more out of necessity to have them skate, as one player already was in the box. With both of my jammers playing as blockers in the same pack they managed to pick up their fourth minors at different times and get clean for their next jam rotation.
An unexpected side effect to such a tactic: You're giving your (future) jammer a minute to rest in the box, instead of poodling her, letting her sit for a minute and then have to play as a blocker.
By having her pick up her fourth after the pack whistle you minimize how much time she has to skate before she will jam.
Sure, it's not without its faults. One picked up a major instead of her fourth, but she eventually got rotated into the pack again and picked up her fourth minor. And a player could end up picking up her minor at the the end of the jam, only to sit for a minute, then play, then jam. But in a world of 45 second to minute:thirty jams, it doesn't really affect the game that much.