Being out of contact since December has taught me a lot about derby. I’m able to see the strengths and weaknesses of my teammates, recognize which strategy should be implemented in a given situation, observe effective and ineffective communication, etc.
While I have passionately missed playing, I think being on the sidelines has been immensely beneficial for my team and for me. I could go on and on about everything I have learned by watching (and probably will at some point- since I have a blog now and all), but for tonight I’m going to focus on playing one on one.
To clarify, I’m not taking about playing woman on woman in a pack. I am merely talking about one on one as a drill.
This might seem elementary to some of you, but don’t consider this an instructional post. This is more of my ode to playing one on one.
It’s nearly impossible to summarize all of the skills that are essential to roller derby in one sentence. Lateral movement, agility, speed, speed control, communication, awareness, teamwork, strength, power- all of those things come to mind, but that still doesn’t cover everything.
I think of one on one as encompassing all of the individual skills necessary. It doesn’t teach teamwork, communication, pack awareness, and the like. However, by playing one on one we practice agility, footwork, speed control, quickness, lateral movement, hitting, track awareness, etc.
Aside from actually playing roller derby- playing one on one is the most fun you can possibly have. Rather than just skating in circles at open skate, bring a friend and try to get around each other! If you can go to your rink and you have a track painted, then that’s even better. But if you don’t- it’s still fun to play!
As a jammer, I can work on getting around a blocker by juking, jumping, hitting, running through hits, and looking for opportunities! When I’m blocking, I can work on my lateral movement, speed control, hitting. This is the most simple drill that you can do, but arguably the most effective.
My roller derby buddy, Merv the Perv of Dutchland, taught me the importance of this. He simply said, if your 14 girls can beat their 14 girls in one on one, you win.
Now obviously, you need team work and communication. But even when I’m playing defense in a 2 person wall, I think about one on one. The way I see it is that if you are working well with your partner- you communicate, recycle, and trust each other- then that wall should be exactly twice as effective at stopping the jammer.
As a jammer, one thing I’ve learned to do by just coaching rather than playing- is to teach my blockers to block me. We’re a team, a cohesive unit.
I should want all of my blockers to be able to stop me. Likewise, all of our blockers should want all of our jammers to be good enough to get around them. Clearly, both of those things can’t be true but I just mean help each other out. Tell them your “secrets,” because they’re your team! Also, by helping your teammates be able to block you (or get around you), you are challenging yourself.
So next time you skate outside or at open skate (or if you’re just walking or running with someone) play one on one!