From the helmet of: Gravy
One of the reasons I love jamming is because you can just sort of... shut off and go into primal spazz reaction mode. When you’re new to derby, it’s the easiest position. You don’t have to think about the strategy that you don’t really understand or the awkward things your feet and legs are somehow actually doing. And if you can use that wonkiness to make your way through a pack every once in a while, the jammer panty will just sort of... consistently make its way onto your helmet. And that’s it; you’ve got a star on your back for the rest of your career.
While I’ve been steadily leveling up in jamming over the past 3+ years, my blocking has been pretty stagnated. The first few times I actually blocked in a scrimmage, I remember that I could get to the opposing jammer quickly, but once I got there, I had no idea what to do. Do I hit her out or slow her down so someone else can hit her out? Is my body doing this right? How is she moving so quickly? And unlike when jamming, if your brain overthinks for a split second, the jammer is gone and you’re left standing there, analyzing what just happened. Until it’s time for the jammer to come back around (how did she get here so fast?!) and you have to find your friends and hope your butts are close enough that the jammer that’s barreling in won’t hit your seam and send you flying.
Being somewhat new to the blocking game is almost like re-learning how to play. I thought that the little tricks I used while jamming didn’t translate over to blocking, but it was only after I became a better blocker that I realized that each position could use the other’s skills, just differently. You can’t fake a jammer by pretending you’re not going to block her and then magically block her, but you can be sneaky and trick the jammer into cutting the track. Spinning, while sometimes getting you out of tough jamming situations, will not block the jammer, but solid footwork can help you stay in front of her while she’s juking. There’s a completely different mindset going into the game as a blocker than when going in as a jammer.
Blocking is like a game of ambition, relentlessness, and patience. (What do you mean, patience?! This is ROLLER DERBYAHHH). Patience in the way you move and the way you think. You can’t get too gung-ho and overcompensate, or you’ll lose the jammer. You can’t move your head from side to side looking for the jammer or you’ll lose her. When your wall is patient and can contain that jammer, daaaang, that takes all the jammer juice away. Blocking is zen. It’s focused, highly mental, and takes a certain amount of clarity to be successful.
Though I will always take that jammer cap when it’s given, I’ve really started to enjoy blocking. Blocking with people who are on the same page as you is like something I had never experienced before. Completely exhilarating, the way that everyone just sort of fills in where they’re needed, like a self-solving, soul-crushing puzzle. I hope that everyone experiences that feeling in their derby career, just as I hope that everyone experiences getting lead jammer for the first time (because you always take the opportunity to jam when it comes up, right? Right?!). If you want to play better and have a deeper understanding of the game, play both positions. Soak it all up. To be able to block a jammer, you have to move and think like one. And to be able to jam past blockers, you have to know what it’s like being a blocker. And the great thing is that you can soak it up. You have that power. Because whatever you put into derby is exactly what you get back (and then some).
Tesla and Gravy
Just two rollergirls trying to share the rollerlove from Austin, TX to the world.