I’m in a really sore mood today, partly down to man flu, but also cause I’m just really demoralised with my progress at the minute.

I went to a rookie practice last night with Oxford roller girls, since I was in Oxford for a few days with work (also meaning I missed a few SRT practices).

I could say it was a “humbling” experience… but “soul crushing” is more accurate. My blocking fucking sucks. My jamming fucking sucks. I just feel like a clumsy mess whenever I get near a wall.

I keep thinking of it and trying to analyse in my head to find a root cause of all the issues, but there’s no simple solution I can see.

Overall it was a useful session though, and although painful, I’m glad it’s opened my eyes to how much work I need to do as a player.

Anyway, it also kind of really (really really) makes me miss SRT. I’ve missed two practices, it’s been like a week since I’ve played with them. But wahhh… I feel like a little kid without their comfort blanket…

WEAK areas:

  • Derby position – Sucks. I’m either too far forward or too far back. Either way I get knocked into the floor.
  • Shit laterals – My laterals are clumsy and slow. This isn’t new, but I thought I had improved. I find it really really hard to coordinate laterals with others in the wall and I always underestimate where the track is.
  • Opening target zones – To make up for my bad laterals, I tend to skate. sideways to block and end up exposing some nice legal target zones to get blocked on.
  • Positioning – I move too much. I don’t know whether to stick in my lane or fill up the gaps when the wall shuffles over. Actually, I know I should stick in my lane, but at crunch time I panic and abandon ship. BAD.
  • Stopped blocking – I struggle a lot not to clockwise or stopped block. I can’t grasp how to plow gently, it feels like either I’m stopping all movement or else I’m being merrily shoved along giving no resistance.
  • Front blocks – Instinctively I will turn around and block front to front with a jammer if I lose my position in the wall. It isn’t the worst reaction, but it’d be more productive to either wall up or ram the jammer off the track rather than just go straight in with the frontal assault.
  • Bracing – okay I’m just confused about this one. Every time I brace I get told to do something different with my arms. I’d thought I was okay with bracing, but I just felt completely ineffective at holding my wall together.
  • Jamming – I guess I was cautious to try too hard because a lot of the fresh meat were still a little bit bambi. But it’s more of a mental thing I guess. Once I’ve juked a few times and pushed, I kind of feel like I’m all out of tricks. I also expend a lot of energy unnecessarily on failed feints.

Areas which sucked slightly less:

  • Shouting – I felt like I found my voice. Even though my volume can probably use work, I just talked and talked. Nobody else was really saying anything, so I ended up doing most of the communication. It was good to practice it.
  • Dropping – “The drop” which Vera taught me seems to be sinking in. Once I’m dropped, I feel quite steady and I’m happy to hold the jammer pushing. Although again, I must be conscious of not stopped blocking or clockwise blocking. And not falling on my bum when the jammer stops pushing.
  • Shouldering – I feel like my jammer aim is improving, although I’m still very scared at speed that I’ll accidentally back block – or just bounce off the wall – or create an opening but not really know what to do with it.

Advice I received:

  • A rookie – “keep your hips square” i.e. be careful when positional blocking not to open up a nice gap on your side for the jammer to thwack. Keep presenting an illegal target zone.
  • ‘Greased Lightning’ – step, don’t roll to move laterally. It helps stay with your wall.
  • ‘Greased Lightning’ – If you have small arms, put them on the inside of the blocker’s shoulder when you’re bracing.

Stuff to work on:

  • Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals
  • Left foot plows
  • Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals Laterals
  • Watch some derby, figure out HTF to jam
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