Passing the Star, My Journey to Blocking Part 2

Following on from my previous blog post on this topic, I want to talk a little bit about the challenges that come with training in a different role/position within the team from both a physical and a mental game standpoint.

So let’s start with the physical challenges; specifically learning how your body has to adapt to a different style of movement and environment

The whole purpose of a Jammer is to basically play keep away, or find and create holes to break through. A blockers role is very different, your key goal as defence is to literally stop the opposition from getting through.

Credit to GB Photography

The footwork although similar uses your body in a very different way, the positions and stances you have to use are about being big, taking up space, committing to stopping the opposition, making yourself a physical wall – which for me after years of attempting to be strong but lithe, and agile with rapid movements it’s very hard for me to not run away and go solo from the rest of my wall.

Recent training footage… learning to use my body differently

I think that’s been the biggest learning curve, not the trust of the team, but my bodies naturally quick response to movement – my muscles literally trigger and fire when I make contact and it’s really hard to not fight that now natural response to evade and run – which in turn means I end up breaking a strong wall formation by either overcompensating by moving the whole wall over or by pulling myself out of the wall and doing something completely different that my wall isn’t expecting – or at times makes zero sense!

Number 2 is simply relearning to Plow effectively… my Fracture had already altered my footwork as I have a natural urge now to protect my ankles. But inadvertently my ‘post-fracture’ ankle is now my strongest plow foot and the journey to make my other foot match is a long one. I also still have random moments of complete loss of function to my plow because my body twists at different angles that cause the knees, thighs and ankles to not be in alignment which means I roll 🤦🏼‍♀️ which is frustrating af. But it’s something I can work on at Open skate and through my training Off-skates to really centre and strengthen my core and work on that stability and flexibility so that I don’t throw such ridiculous shapes whilst blocking!

Happy team in Belfast : My last outing as part of a Jammer Rotation

Finally the biggest challenge has been the mental one. Working as a team after 3+ years of being part of a team but only really working with my offence has been very hard. The expectation (which is in my head not real life), as a 5/6 year veteran is that regardless of the role you played you should understand blocking 101. Heck, I coach folks to block, but if you aren’t physically involved in the drills, and your observing others and giving them feedback you then don’t gain your own insight on your abilities.

More trying to relearn how to move my body, and how to work with a wall

And it’s easy to forget that you are now working with players who have been doing this role for that entire time. They’ve developed abilities to communicate and work together without even talking, they know each other’s movements to within a second of their reaction times. It’s quite an intimidating beast to become a part of. And I now see this from a newly passed mins skater who has to learn to become a part of that team ethos without feeling like they aren’t able to reach that level or hold people back….

This is where learning to have personal resilience is important, along with Sparking the Passion again, one of my co-coaches spoke to me the other day regarding those moments and gave me the advice to;

‘stop overthinking – and enjoy the challenge’

And that actually really helped, it seems simple, but trying to not put the pressure on myself to be X, Y or Z now and taking what I’ve learned from CrossFit and my time in Roller Derby, that progression is about time, consistency and commitment more so than anything else – and I will get there.

My first proper game as a blocker is Humberstruck this coming weekend (26th October 2019) so I’ll be updating further on my progression after that game!