When I wrote the “Be a Better Brace” article, it occurred to me that a lot of the problems that arise for braces are because they:
- Don’t trust their butts.
- Their butts aren’t doing their job.
- A combination of 1 & 2. (It’s a vicious cycle, really.)
So here’s the deal butts:
Stop stressing your brace out. If you do YOUR job, they will be better able to focus on THEIR job. The whole wall wins.
And the opposing jammer loses. #sorrynotsorry
You might be wondering exactly what it is that a butt is supposed to do in the wall anyway. I mean, a butt is a butt is a butt, right?
I’ve already chastised the brace for trying to stop the jammer when that’s not truly their job, so the corollary is this:
The butt stops the jammer. Period.
There are 3 primary things a butt needs to do in order to stop the jammer so that their brace has the time and mental bandwidth to help them out further.
In order of tactical importance:
1. Meet the contact.
Playing roller derby is all about space.
Any space that you cede to the opposing team can provide them with an advantage, so you want to hold on to your space like Milton to his stapler:
The first chance for a jammer to force you to cede space is with their initial hit to the wall. This “hit” can come in one of two ways:
- An actual, physical hit that tries to push you forward or pop you out of your blocking stance.
- A juke that causes you to commit to a space that the jammer doesn’t need (or want) so that you give up the space that they do.
As a butt, your job is to meet the hit as it comes rather than anticipate where it will be.
If you’re looking at a jammer that traditionally bulldozes through the wall, you want to meet force with force by dropping into the neutral space behind you as the jammer comes at you. Think the Dip & Catch.
Jukey, agile jammers can be a little bit trickier which is where the rest of your butt jobs come in.
2. Guard YOUR lane.
If the brace being unable to do the brace’s job is a function of not trusting the butts, usually a butt not being able to do a butt’s job is ALSO a function of not trusting the other butts.
TRUST YOUR BUTTS.
What does that look like in gameplay?
Stop encroaching on lanes and space that aren’t yours. (Unless it belongs to an opposing skater. Then encroach away.)
The lane you get assigned probably depends a bit on your strengths and weaknesses, the way lanes are defined by your team, and how your walls strategy adjusts over the course of a game.
But your lane is your lane.
You stay there and guard it with your life. And you trust the other butts to stay in their lanes and guard them with their lives.
3. Plow your GD legs off.
I used to skate with someone that frequently said, “If you’re just standing in front of the jammer, you’re not actually blocking them.”
And it’s true. Especially in today’s game. Any jammer can easily push an ineffective blocker out of the engagement zone without expending too much energy.
The name of the game here is to MAKE THEM EXPEND ENERGY.
Make them push you without having success. Make them juke from side to side without finding a space. Make them work.
Actually stopping against the force of a jammer is the best way to do this. Slow walls take away the two things a jammer needs to be most effective:
If you want to give your brace the freedom to move in front of the jammer (thereby giving you non-verbal communication about where they are), then you need to rely primarily on your own stopping power.
Drop those hips and dig your edges in.
Butts are the bodyguards of the wall.
Protect the space from any initial breaches. Keep eyes on your quadrant. Trust the rest of your team. Slow down any acts of aggression.
And throw your body in front of (jammer) bullets.
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