ask a skater: advice on stats & coaches

DEAR BLOCKER AND JAMMER,

How do your game stats affect your training or idea of your performance, since the stats are going to be public?

BLOCKER:

Stats can be super-duper helpful to recognize patterns that are positive and negative in your gameplay. But to be honest, my stats usually reflected the way I felt that my game went, and the stats usually just verified how I had felt about my performance. What I usually took out of it was if I had penalties and what they were and how I could improve that. Of course it feels good to have great stats and it does verify that I have had a good game. In the end stats are just numbers, and they don’t only reflect my personal performance, but also how well I played together the other skaters on the track and the other team.I really see stats as a tool that a team can use to understand what is done well and what we can do better. I view it as a useful to tool to improve team performance, rather than personal performance.

JAMMER:

In my opinion, if you’re using your stats as a gauge for your training only because you know they’re going to be public, you’re training at a deficit. Stats are part of a larger picture of what’s going on in-game, and can be a helpful guide during footage watching by narrowing focus to identify scenarios, positive or negative, and better help evaluate nuances to determine what can be improved. Using stats as a comparison for evaluating pack dynamics and skating skills doesn’t work; they explain the “what”, not the “why” or “how” in the story.

Evaluating the whole story will prove to be the most effective method in improving your performance, along with repetitions and practice, which take time. Plus, stats don’t take into account any cool skating skills your team accomplished. How are you supposed to know your spins and jumps were badass?!?!

DEAR BLOCKER AND JAMMER,

Who was your favorite coach and why?

BLOCKER: 

I really can’t answer this question, since I’ve played derby for so many years and I’ve had so many coaches and I have coached so many people myself. I don’t think I have ever had a favorite coach, but I have had coaches that have inspired me in different ways and coaches that have taught me skills I never thought I would learn, and people that I just learned from by skating with them.I have always appreciated coaches that had the ability to go back to basics and build on from that. I learn best from physically trying something over and over, rather than listen to long explanations. In short; I have always preferred coaches that talk less and make you skate more. I’ve always thought Malou (Helsinki) was an excellent coach on all levels, her understanding and love of skating always made it fun to coach with her and to be coached by her. OMG and Bonnie Thunders must be mentioned as coaches that had great impact on me, both my coaching style and my skating performance. They made the team work hard, and made us believe that we could outperform ourselves. Personally I have always appreciated coaches that make me work hard, give me a thumb up when I do well, and then push me a little harder.

JAMMER:

Well, I can’t say I only have one favorite coach as a number of coaches have played such a positive role throughout my rollerderby experience, and putting into words the impact they’ve had is difficult. HOWEVER, I will do my best…

G Money coached Bay Area when I transferred to Denver for competitive play. During my first few years, MHC played B.A.D. what seemed multiple times a year. After each game, he always gave me a high-five and called out things I did well. Even after Champs my first year, he talked to me at the after party and gave me encouraging words, supporting the growth he’d seen throughout the year, and calling out my potential. Having someone I hardly knew genuinely giving me props was more meaningful then I’m sure he’ll ever know. He’s one of my absolute favorites. Scott Paul (now with Rose) coached me for about 4 years (?) while I was on MHC. He’s ok. 🙂 . Kidding. I owe a lot of my knowledge of strategy, skating nuances, and what I believe to be the best coaching in the sport to him. While I didn’t always agree or understand some of his ideas or approaches, I learned a lot from him, both in the context of sports and just life.

Tim “Dirté” Burns is a solid human, through and through. He is one of the most supportive, giving, and encouraging people I know. Outside of the few times he forgot to put a jammer out in a game (haha), he’s the best line up coach I’ve ever had, and probably one of the best in the sport. His smart game play and ability to give direct, actionable feedback in the moment leaves difficult shoes to fill.


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