Dear Blocker and Jammer,
What one small change in your gameplay made the biggest impact? Lightbulb moments?
Everything. Having never participated in sports as a child, I did a lot of research (reading, watching videos) of various lifts, circuits, and movements that would help translate to roller derby. As a smaller jammer, building muscle has helped in absorbing impact as well as having more force behind my movements. Building muscle isn’t everything though. I’m constantly watching various exercise videos to see how they might translate to or benefit my roller derby. Explosive movements, quick transitions, increased speed: there are a lot of small movements that can make a huge impact in game play.Skating skills are a must. We play a sport on wheels. Teaching our bodies to work with our skates, to utilize our skates to their fullest potential, is a game changer. Again, the most basic of movements can have the biggest impact. Incorporating movements with speed, balance, and control takes time, but the effort is worth it so that, come game day, you’re able to focus completely on the game.Outside of the physical training, I think the mental training has been the most impactful. Overanalyzing serves as both a skill and a detriment. Learning how to watch footage and games, process the strategy, but not get stuck in my head has been a huge challenge for me, one that I’m sure will be a constant honing for the rest of my life.
When I started derby, off-skate was not really a priority, and just realizing the importance of off-skate was a large change. I do think two things really had a large impact on my game play. The first one was to hone my skating skills – to get off the track and just go outdoor skating, to hit up skate parks, to skate on concrete with gravel, to dance on my skates and to do all those things that you can do on your skates that are not just skating left on a track and hitting. Becoming a better skater outside of the track really progressed me as a player and made me able to get where I wanted to go on the track. And with the risk of sounding like a broken record, strength training in combination with plyometrics really is what kept me progressing. BUT my second largest change that I made was RESTING from roller derby, to actually let my body and mind recover and rest, to take a break from impact and turning left, to be able to come back strong when the season started.
Dear Blocker and Jammer,
Has where you have found happiness in the game changed throughout your career?
—Clap Your Hands
It so did! When I started roller derby in 2007, it was about creating a sport, it was play and costumes, it was falling over on skates. But to be honest, I think that for me happiness always has been in the progress and competition, to see myself progress, to see my team progress and the sport becoming more competitive. It is not about winning, don’t get me wrong, I love to win, but if my team outperformed themselves and lost, that is still something positive. When I moved back to Sweden at the end of 2010, the few teams that existed there barley had minimum skills, and I came from playing in championships with Gotham. My goal became to do as much as possible to have the same level of play in Sweden as I had just left in the US, because I thought roller derby was the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I thought that everyone should have that. Encouraging teams to join WFTDA, coaching, writing WFTDA applications, coaching, co-hosting a tournament, coaching, playing, skating, playing, coaching, sitting in meetings, working out, bringing my team to the US, aspiring to become better, moving back to the US to play – all those things for sure brought me a lot of happiness, and a bunch of tears, but more happiness than tears. Roller derby is a creature and spirit of its own, and we are all responsible for what it is and what it is becoming. So I think what I am trying to say is that sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to find happiness in what you do and sometimes you change the playing field.
Most definitely, yes. I’m thinking about “in the game” as in the sport of roller derby. When I first started playing, I joined because it was something active that also looked fun and challenging. Over the years, I’ve found happiness in working on specific drills and movements, focusing on the athleticism of the sport. The increase in challenge has increased the reward. What hasn’t changed, though, is the happiness in being on skates. I can’t not have fun when skating.
Like what we do? Consider chipping in a few bucks.