*This article was originally published in Inside Line Magazine, October 1, 2011.
PBR: A jammer is self sufficient. They what is best for the team by staying on track and racking in the points! Built for speed and the ability to take hits, a jammer must always be on their “a” game. Making smart legal moves and using their teammates properly are key. Never hesitating and always using those holes to reach the front of the pack is what makes a Jammer a great asset to the team.
Mo: As a jammer you need to have a plan of attack before you hit that pack, it doesn’t need to be where or how you are getting through that pack but you need to be focused on where you will be THE FRONT OF THAT PACK as fast as humanly possible…no time for thinking that happens at practice and while you are training, in the game you are a machine. Make sure that as a jammer: your jammer mentality is intact! skate skate skate…second gear, jumping from a skate to run, to a side step and turn…whatever you need to do to get through the pack LEGALLY. Work on keeping things legal at all times, no worse guilt then being in the box as a jammer.
Pivot- A pivot is the captain on the track, making sure that their teammates are doing what they need to be doing even if they have to physically put them there! Weather there is a play to be executed, wrangling up the stragglers, or maintaining constant offensive/defensive brain is what needs to be happening on the pivots guard. They are what makes or breaks a pack.
PBR: What’s so special about the Pivot Panty?! My own personal journey as a pivot has been a learning experience like none other of growth because that stripe means you “MUST see all“… It was not until the 3rd year of my derby career that I fully grasped what wearing that stripe truly meant. It means: you are in charge of all your players in the pack, the overall strategy during a jam being executed properly and being the voice for your teammates to follow in the darkest & brightest times on the track. Now as well all know, everyone in derby does things different! I am completely against micromanaging someone’s style if it works because if it works then that’s all that matters.
Mo: I can only speak of how and what goes thru my brain as a pivot during any given jam. As my team takes the track, I weigh all the variables. Some of which are: Who are my strongest blockers that have no problem holding their own solo while holding back the jammer without themselves getting “goated” if a scenario should play out that way? Which blockers may need an extra shove & guidance while rolling along and who should they be paired with to make sure it happens? Do I want to start the jam off in a specific strategy or wait to see how the first couple of feet of rolling go? Is the opposing team setting up for an obvious play and how can we counteract that while still executing our own? Is my jammer going to need help getting thru or are they self sufficient? I could go on and on AND on about what goes on in my head during any given jam while I am pivoting but that is exactly what proves my point. A PIVOT MUST BE CONSTANTLY SEEING EVERY POSSIBLE SCENARIO on the track with the ability to maintain an offensive & defensive brain.
Mo: All this “thinking” you may be doing as a pivot is pointless if your team does not listen to you or trust that you know what you are talking about on the track. You must demand as a pivot that what you say goes and proving yourself time and time again on how you will lead your pack on the track to a successful jam! As Pivot, you are your teammates commander at the front of the pack (not always at the front, sometimes you got to wrangle the kittens or shove a straggler) guiding them in the correct direction during battle! If they do not trust you and your judgment, then the whole pack is not a whole which we all know does no good. Thus take wearing the panty with PRIDE that you will lead your fellow teammates to exactly what needs to be happening!
PBR: Many become fearful of being a pivot because they see it as a HUGE responsibility. Well, it kind of is a HUGE responsibility that should be taken seriously however not to the point of fearing it! Those who do take it for what it is become the most well rounded sk8rs and their teams succeed time and time again. It’s just that simple. Every player should strive to be well rounded in every position on the track is my thoughts; it allows your personal journey of being a triple threat to continually gain! We all want to be the best we can be and must never stop growing as players otherwise what’s the point?! Having the ability to play all positions allows you to gain on every aspect.
DRILLS: The most effective “pivot” drill I believe is forming a pack and having your pivot bark out orders while maintaining the well being of the pack and having your team repeat what you are saying. “T-stop! Pack it up…Faster, Faster, 100%. STOP! Reverse! Inside line… Mo Payne, to the back of the pack…OUTSIDE LINE… Pack it up!… Dubbs to the Front of the pack… Tuck IT IN (on corners)… Wide on the Stretch ladies, Etc.” During this drill, it allows whomever the pivot is to DEMAND everyone to be following their movement and the pack itself is a swarm! It also allows the pivot to learn to be constantly on their toes, watching the pack, adjusting what need be and much more.
PBR: A pivot must keep their cool because losing your head does no one any good and should be encouraging even at the worst of times (positive reinforcement it key)! Being a successful pivot fills ones’ self with pride, at least it does for me. You know that your team trusts you, that you can make a decision in a split second and your team will follow you with no questions about it. Now there is always that gray area of what could have been done or should have been done aka micromanaging. If it works, don’t fix it… however always be open to suggestions as a pivot but bottom line follow your gut and use that butt!
Mo: Pivot is the boss, if they tell you to dance on that line you damn well better dance on that line, you will have practiced the play that starts by dancing anyways so you will know what’s up, but you get what I mean they call the shots. You should be talking about what you are going to do in the next jam while you are sitting and waiting to go out. If that is not possible then you have 30 seconds USE IT! You’re a fancy pivot, turn around and watch your blockers, you can skate backwards and verbalize what’s happening and direct them accordingly.
PBR: This blocker goes with the Pivot, usually covering that inside line is where I like them to be. Their objective is to help hold a solid front on a wall while having the option to chase down a jammer or build a bridge if need be. Offensive/defensive switch needs to be ready!
Mo: some people call this shadow pivot, I think that is pretty self explanatory there. Make sure you are on that inside line or a step over next to the pivot. This position is where I would put my newer players.
PBR: Either the second blocker is part of the Pivot & 1st blocker group as forming a 3 person wall of doom or they may be teamed up with the 3rd blocker on a 2×2 strategy . Regardless the 2nd blocker is in charge of filling in the wholes from the front to the back of the pack. Always ready to lend a hand and communicating with all teammates about pack status.
Mo: This spot depends on the strategy you are going to use. 3 wall you are in the front. 2 and 2 you are in the back with the last blocker. Again this would be a spot I would fill with a newer player if I needed to.
PBR: The third blocker is used as usually either a pinball on the opposing jammer, filler on a waterfall or a helping hand to get their jammer thru! Being that they are more in the back of the pack, the 3rd blocker must be on their toes as to not get goateed, communicate well if the pack is getting stretched out and use those vocal chords to pass on what’s going on in front of them in the pack.
Mo: This position has a ton of names: sweeper, wrecker, cannon ball, I call it 3rd blocker (creative, eh?) This person needs to be alert and know the game plan whether she is working alone or with a partner and her objective is to be a jammer kill (also another name for this position.) If the jammer gets by this blocker needs to be telling her teammates, good communication is important for all positions but this is really important here.