Take the star — why you’re going to try jamming next practice

Play all the positions. Photo by Masonite Burn

Play all the positions.
Photo by Masonite Burn

It happens in leagues all over the world. A jammer comes out of a drill, sweaty and breathing hard, pulls the panty off her head, smiles and waves it in the air.

“Who wants to jam?”

Happy, huffing jammers approaching the bench with their sweaty panties reminds me of my cat, arriving victoriously at my feet with a bird head. So proud. So happy to share their victory. And frequently, their enthusiasm is met with disgust and resistance.

“Fine, I’ll do it,” is something I hear a lot.
“Oh hell no. I’m a blocker,” is something I hear a lot that pisses me off.

Here’s something I heard once that is entirely true: A jammer is just a blocker in a fucked up situation.

This is a list of things blockers are supposed to do: roller skate, stop, move laterally, hit with power and in good form, control their speed, control the opposing jammer’s speed, communicate, play clean, be strategic and know the rules, otherwise crush the opposing jammer’s soul.

Here is a list of things jammers are supposed to do:  roller skate, stop, move laterally, hit with power and in good form, control their speed, communicate, play clean, be strategic and know the rules, evaluate a pack upon approach, otherwise crush the opposing jammer’s and all opposing blocker’s souls.

Not so different.

Photo by Masonite Burn.

Photo by Masonite Burn.

It’s rare, if ever, that I see a relief jammer goated. When there is a goat on the track, it’s almost always the “oh hell no. I’m a blocker”-skater. Why? She didn’t practice being a blocker in a fucked up situation. She didn’t practice hulk-smashing walls, juking, pushing walls and other totally-necessary derby skills that jammers practice all the time. Her footwork is probably slower. If she hits the jammer out, she probably can’t run backward as fast as the jammer can. Being a jammer is (often) about urgency. It’s a good thing to always practice. Further, I’ve never met a great jammer who can’t block.

Don’t be scared. Realize it’s important at practice to try new things and that putting on a star once in a while translates directly into being a more effective blocker.

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About hsteeves

Hard Dash
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3 Responses to Take the star — why you’re going to try jamming next practice

  1. 100% agree. I used to be a star-dodger. Eyes-down at scrimmage time. Look slow, and un-jammer-y. But jamming really ups your game (whatever level you are at). It lets you see the game from a whole other perspective. And there might just be a time when one of your jammers is concussed, one is throwing up and the team needs you to step up…

  2. Original Cyn says:

    Thank you so much for this article!

    I’m a hard core believer in blammers. Jamming makes for a better blocker and blocking makes for a better jammer! I’m primarily a blocker, and I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t always look at myself as see “jammer” material even on good days. I take that star though, and no matter what happens, I keep taking it. Why? Because I need those fucked up situations in order to make me a better skater. A better blocker. A better derby player! The willingness to throw yourself into a situation that scares you shows a willingness to do whatever it takes to reach that next level of athleticism. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it. What matters is that you are passionate about pushing yourself to constantly improve.

    I relish the times when I struggle through a wall (especially when the wall owns my sorry butt) with that star on my head, and those times when I skate off the track feeling like my lungs are trying to crawl out my chest and run for dear life. It’s a challenge, and while I may not have been born a jammer, I’m not giving up until I’ve made myself into one.

  3. Pingback: One year in, what’s coming to HardDash.com | The Dashboard

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