There has been a lot said about the mental side of Roller Derby, indeed fellow Blogger and team mate, Treble Maker, has a book out all about Mental Toughness available here. More specifically she talks about Jamnesia in posts such as this one in her blog. Jamnesia being the practice of forgetting what happened in a Jam before you start the next one. At Sci Fight III this year, I unintentionally demonstrated how important it is to not just practice it during a Jam, but also during those 30s of a penalty.
As mentioned in my ‘I’m Back’ post I had the pleasure of playing in Sci Fight III for Tattoine Twin Sun Terrors. For the most part, due to the high quality Jammers we had, I played as a blocker, however I did Jam occasionally and one occasion forms the inspiration for this post.
I call it ‘that jam’ because it really did stick in my memory that much and it struck me as perhaps the inspiration for a post Treble could do, however as Quady has inspired me to get this blog going again.. I have decided to do it myself.
The jam in question occurred at the end of our second, and closest, game when our LUM put me on to Jam for the last one of the game. I had been blocking for the entire game so this was the first one I had had been Jammer for and I was aware the game was winnable with us trailing by just 5 points.
This is where the first lesson I learnt, and am passing on, comes in… Yes it was a crucial jam but the situation was brought by the team as a whole and it, as a result, wasn’t just my job to win the game.. it was the job of the whole team throughout the bout. Now as I lined up I wasn’t particularly stressed and this is the first lesson. I know a lot of, especially part time, Jammers get stressed by the pressure of trying to score. In short DON’T.. your LUM put you out there to have a go and do your best. If you end up on the back of a 25-0 Jam, don’t feel bad as long as you gave it your all and did your best then the result wasn’t your fault. Your blockers didn’t help you get out well enough, your pivot wasn’t there for your panty pass, or simply the other line was formed of 5 better players than your 5. So on that Jam line, just chill, plan your attack and do your best.
In this Jam my best produced lead Jammer and coming to approach the pack again I bagged a natural grand slam bringing the scores level. This is where the second lesson comes in, great my team has done an awesome job, they’ve held the Jammer – who in this case was a very talented Jammer – for enough time for me to get 1.5 laps on him. But I’m not winning the game on my own, if I skate properly, do a good job and still end up with us losing – so be it. It’s not my fault…
Unfortunately I let the pressure I put upon myself get the better on me, and feeling the pressure of him being half a lap behind I didn’t control my approach to the first opposing blocker well enough. I rushed it, didn’t slow enough, and earned a back block penalty. So the lesson I learnt was to remember that it’s a team game, give myself time and if I end up having to call the jam without scoring then it doesn’t matter – I’ve done my best. In short, treat each scoring past as a single isolated situation, ignore the score, read the track and the pack, regulate your speed accordingly and if ultimately you don’t get through it’s down to a combination of factors and nothing to feel bad about.
As you can imagine I entered the penalty box utterly distraught, but what happened next is what I am passing on for all you to think about.. Even during a Jam forget what’s happened and focus on the next move. Initially I sat in the box head in my hands, feeling awful.. but once the PBT said ‘stand’ I was instantly planning my next move… use those 30s to get over the penalty and form a strategy for rejoining the game and again do your best.
In this Jam I managed two more scoring passes after leaving the box, I was absolutely devastated, I felt I’d lost us the game.. I was in tears.. but now I recognise that not only could I learn a lot from the Jam, but that the result wasn’t down to me, and more importantly that I hope that it gives you all a bit of inspiration and focus on how to work through a Jam.
As a Jammer, at the start of a Jam, simply focus on your plan, now you may decide to go 5th blocker off the line, in which case you need to be aware of the opposing Jammer, but the rest of the time ignore the Jammer and focus on your plan for getting through the Pack. Be aware of offence and use it, and of the pivot if you lose lead, but ultimately focus on you and getting through the pack. The other Jammer is your equal, don’t be overawed by them.
Approaching the pack for the scoring pass, DON’T RUSH!! read the pack, slow accordingly and adjust to the fluidity of the pack, control first, plan second, points third.
Practice Jamnesia in the box, use those 20s your sitting to refocus, then the 10s standing to plan your rejoin.
And last but not least, don’t ever do what I did and think it’s your fault if you don’t score enough points. You are part of a team, your working as a team, and you win and lose as a team. The saying there is no ‘I’ in team is right in any team sport, but in my opinion easy to forget in Roller Derby.. You have up to 14 people, and 5 on track to work with AS A TEAM – Don’t forget that, give Jamming a go and have fun!