Where to begin?
BB has been pushing us HARD in training...no longer are we just learning the basic skating skills, we're having to use them in game-like situations (although no actual scrimmage yet, we're just about to start running contact drills though. More about this later). We've learnt to passive block, which is also known as a booty block. The reason for this is that you're basically getting your ass in the opposing player's way, and at times you're pretty much sitting in their lap! This requires a lot of confidence, good lateral motions and being able to look behind you every 3 seconds to see where the jammer/opposing blocker is. In spite of having the kind of booty that this sort of thing was made for, I still lack confidence when blocking: my laterals aren't up to scratch yet (for some reason I can go right with no problems, but my feet don't like going left!) and my confidence is still a work in progress.
The other skill BB has had us working on is jamming. For those not in the know, the jammers are the point scorers in derby, and are marked out by having a star on their helmet covers. They score by passing the hip of each opposing player (who are trying to block them/knock them over!). To be a first class jammer you have to be lithe, agile and above all, FAST. Oh dear. I'm really not any of those things, and I know for a fact that I am one of the slowest skaters in my group. Every time I start to go fast I get the fear, and allow my momentum to slow me down. During a decent practice we ran a '4 wide' drill, which was a pace line where we were, well, four skaters wide. When BB blew the whistle the line at the back had to jam through the rest of the pace line and get to the front, and then the next line would go and so on. I think it's fair to say I absolutely, unequivocally SUCKED at this drill! For a start, every time I was my turn on the outside of my line (where you had to sprint) I would end up going to fast, losing control and ending up outside the track. I think my poor team spent more time looking for me than anything else, every time they turned around I had vanished! And then when it was time to jam...well, lets just say I didn't. Kat, Hayley and Leanne all attacked the situation with gusto, making it through to the front (or at last getting through the first few lines) while I got stuck behind the first line like an absolute lemon. I was too scared to take any opening I saw, and Donna, who was defending the inside line of the track, made sure I couldn't go anywhere! BB even took pity on me and tried to 'drill some holes' for me to pass through, but even then I was too scared and too slow to go anywhere. Honestly, the whole thing almost had me in tears and I started to wonder if I will ever be good enough. I told BB how disheartened I felt, and she gave me some sage advice - she feels what I need is confidence, and this takes time and practice. Apparently, my actual skating is ok...what's holding my back is my brain! This is just something that takes time and determination to overcome. On a more positive note, we ran another jamming drill in our last training session, and although I did cut track once and flail a little bit (grabbing an opposing player in the pack in the process, oops!) I MADE IT THOUGH THE PACK! Without getting stuck! This is a first for me, and has boosted my confidence no end.
So, there is still a long way to go...but I think I can make it. I'm going to set myself goals for each week, and work on getting them down. This week I am going to get lower (bend my knees!!) and go faster, and keep working on my laterals (mostly going left...). I let y'all know how I get on.
Until next time...