My league just got a new round of fresh meat. I played with them and watched them play at scrimmage yesterday. There is the one huge difference between the new fresh meat and everyone else.
Sally is a veteran skater. She puts on the jammer panty. The whistle blows and she gets past three blockers, easy. The last line of defense comes at her. Sally sees the blocker and leans into the hit, trying to gain control by putting her own leg in front of the opposing blocker. She gives her weight to the blocker and then runs off. She then gets 50 points in a jam, wins the scrimmage, gets drafted to away team, wins MVP, goes to nationals, Team USA, wins the world, the end.
Then there is fresh meat Fran. Same situation. Fran takes the jammer panty. The whistle blows and she gets past the first three blockers. Then she sees the last line of defense blocker. The blocker looks at Fran. Fran looks at the blocker. And Fran’s face instantly says, “You are going to hit me and I am going to fall and it might hurt and I might break my leg and never play derby again. Shit.” Then, like Fran’s face predicted, the blocker hits her (as blockers do) and she falls and gets recycled to the back of the pack and has to do it all again while Sally (what a bitch) scores a billion points and gets on Team USA instantly. (Bitch.)
Skaters who see another blocker as an inevitable hit that they can’t take — they’re right. Skaters who see another blocker as a quick obstacle to take on before skating off — they’re right too.
One skater I like told me and my teammates, “when I’m on the track I say to myself that I’m the biggest badass on that track. You know how many times I’m actually the biggest badass?” And she laughed. But that mindset matters. It has to change from “You’re going to hit me” to “Just try to hit me.”