How To: Evasive Jamming Skills

Roller Derby Training: Evasive Jamming – Part One

It’s been really interesting to see how this sport has evolved over the last ten years. From knee starts to star passes, braced walls to apex jumps, there’s only one thing you can rely on in roller derby – constant change!

Having been a primary jammer for my team, and a jammer coach for many other teams, I am acutely aware of how these changes have affected the position. Now, more than ever, jammers need to have lots of tools in our tool kits.

While aggressive, battering-ram-style jamming became popular around 2012/13, the evolution of blocking style in the pack has made it harder and harder for one person to physically push the weight of four others. It’s basic math, people!

Which is why evasive jamming that relies on speed, precision and distraction is making a comeback.

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Evasive Jamming Skill: The Spin Around

The Spin Around has become a widely used technique in jamming because:

  • It can be executed in small space (eg. close to the lines)
  • It uses the blockers’ momentum against them (Very “Karate Kid”)
  • It can be employed at different speeds and in different blocking situations

What do I mean by “Spin Around”? It’s the technique of turning 360 degrees around an opposing blocker so that your hips (that were originally behind their hips) end up in front of their hips.

Here it is in action! Check out jammer Dorian Slay from the Ohio Valley Roller Girls (in purple) get past not one but THREE blockers with a Spin Around in this sweet slo-mo clip:

1) Technique #1: The Slow Spin Around

Drill #1 – Slow Motion

Set up: Get into pairs – one jammer, one blocker.

  1. Start with the jammer already making contact on the back of the blocker. Jammer’s left shoulder should be in the center line of the blocker’s back.
  2. Jammer turns their body counter-clockwise so that the shoulder of the blocker is in the center of their chest
  3. Next, they turn counter-clockwise again so that their right shoulder is in front of the blocker’s left shoulder.
  4. Lastly, use that shoulder-to-shoulder contact to push off and complete the rotation.

* Note – the contact really helps! So jammers – feel free to lean into this.

TRAINER TIP: Do not use your stoppers! Trust me, when our jammers stopped using their toe stops, it increased their success rate by 50%. Embrace the movement!

Drill #2 – Speed It Up

Same thing as above, but with more speed off the turn. Make sure you start with the blocker and jammer in contact – not with the jammer behind the blocker.

Drill #3 – Make It Active – and increase the challenge

  1. Allow the blocker to push on the jammer in the turn. This should actually make it easier for the jammers!
  2. Add more blockers – increase to a two wall.
  3. Add even more challenge: set up a scrimmage situation where the jammers MUST pass opposing players with the spin around.

TRAINER TIP: Give praise when jammers attempt the spin even if it is not successful. Do not reward slipping back into old habits – challenge them to create new ones!

2) Technique #2: The Fast Spin Around

Drill #1 – The Move

Set up: Get into pairs – one jammer, one blocker.

  1. Jammer starts 10 feet back from the blocker.
  2. Jammer comes in with speed and uses the same spinning move to turn around the blocker.
  3. Jammer does not go in for contact, although contact may be made by the blocker. The goal of this move is to keep up your momentum – so intentionally going in for contact is counter productive. And remember: NO TOE STOPS!

Drill #2 – Add a Challenge (and some realism)

Set up: Individual skaters spaced at 20 feet intervals around the track.

  1. Jammers skate around the track and must spin around the individual blockers – remember to practice both sides!
  2. Increase the challenge by allowing blockers to make contact and/or adding another blocker to make a two wall.

OK – now go out there and start spinning! And remember falling down means you are learning new things, so don’t be afraid to push yourself.

Watch this space for Evasive Jamming Maneuvers Part Two – coming soon!

Later skaters,

Lulu

P.S. Do you love your team? Of course you do. Well, so does Pivotstar, and we want to show you how much by sponsoring your team! Get discounts on team uniforms and free derby training.  Sign up here.

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