Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How do you handle penalties?

Bogus, dude.  Photo by Becky Wetherington
Damn those refs for doing their jobs and keeping us safe.  Who do they think they are?  Grumble grumble.  Seriously though, everyone, no matter how fantastic they are as a skater has to deal with the possibility of receiving penalties.  It can be frustrating, embarrassing, and down right annoying when you disagree with a penalty; you as a human being have every right to be grumpy about getting a penalty because it literally means you've made a mistake, and NOBODY likes to make mistakes.  Sometimes when we get called on a penalty, it hurts our little feelings, and brings out the worse in us.  Right now, it seems like players are having even more of an issue with receiving penalties because all of the WFTDA teams are in a weird transition with the new rules.  There is no longer a "buffer" of minors, and cutting and multiplayer blocks are weighing heavily on skating styles.  So how can we handle getting a penalty better?

1.  Don't argue with the refs.  Don't argue with the refs.  Don't argue with the refs.  One more time, don't effin' argue with the refs.  Disagree with their call?  That's not your job.  Tell your coach and captain and then shut up about it.  The refs are NOT putting up with BS anymore.  There was a time when some skaters were able to argue refs out of their calls while the game was active; forget those times!  They're done!  If your team argues with with your league's refs during practice, knock it off!  Don't practice bad habits!  Shut your mouth and get to the box.  Let your leaders deal with the refs.

2.  Get your butt off of the track.  Move!  When you hear your color and number, move your butt and get off of the track immediately.  Refs are starting to give more penalties when you dawdle; I know that some refs don't say things loud enough at times, or you're too focused on what you're doing to hear them, but practice it.  You need to be aware if the ref is talking to you, and when he or she is, you need to hustle off of the track.  Our league has been telling the refs to call "bogus penalties" just so we can practice listening for our numbers and getting to the box before we have time to figure out what the penalty could possibly be for.  Think about that part later and get off of the track.

3.  Get to the box.  Someone pointed out that some derby skaters dawdle on their way to the box, which might be taken as a show of defiance...or sulking.  Something.  Anyway, you can sulk in the box!  Get there ASAP!  The only way you're going to stop hurting your team is to get to the box and start your time as quickly as possible.  Once your butt is in the chair, you have a thirty seconds to pout, but then you'd better let it go and make sure you're ready to get back in there and make up for your box trip.

4.  Remember, the refs see it from a different angle.  Yes, that opposing jammer has almost been climbing up your butt with her back blocks and she hasn't been called yet.  That SUCKS, but it's going to happen.  You get away with uncalled penalties too, so suck it up.  If you didn't think you cut that player, remember that the ref is seeing it from at least three feet away and a different angle.  Cope with it; take a deep breath and move on.  Grump about it later on your own time, and away from the game.  Accept the fact that refs will make calls that you don't agree with; I like to compare it to crappy weather.  What are you going to do about crappy weather?  Nothing. 

5.  Forgive yourself.  You're trying to be an asset to your team, and you're pushing yourself.  Sometimes you push the wrong way and you get a penalty.  Nobody is perfect; do you feel like your teammates are going to the box on purpose?  No.  (Not unless they cuckoo crazy pants) So why are you being so tough on yourself?  Yes, you should take in that you got a penalty, and you should try to play cleaner so you won't get another one, but you aren't a perfect player.  Your teammates aren't perfect players, the opponents aren't perfect, and neither are the refs.  Move on.  

I know it's hard; I'm guilty of the grumping part at times when I've been put into the box unjustly.  (It's always unjustly, right?)  We have to learn to be better at the "coping with it" game; derby has enough drama without you losing your crap over a ref call.  Remember, the refs are volunteers too, and if we keep bickering with them, challenging them, scoffing at their authority, then why the hell would they want to keep coming back and volunteer for us? 


  1. Great one, Q! I've got another one--don't come out of the box so fired up, overly motivated to "make it up" to your team that you get back to back penalties. I've seen it too many times, mostly when jamming. You feel guilty because the time you sit in the box is literally costing your team points and you feel like everything is your fault, so you rush out of the box trying to be a hero and you back block the first person to cross your path. Then, you've made it worse!

    If you're the jammer and you are really just losing it, pass the panty or act as a 5th blocker until the jam is over. Stop the bleeding!

    Love the blog! Wish I was seeing you this Saturday.


  2. Been following your blog for a long time. Just wanted to say it's one of the best derby-themed ones out there. Always really solid, useful content on important, varied topics. Keep up the good work!

  3. Also, don't sit in the bin screaming at your teammates about them letting the jammer through a hole that is there BECAUSE you are in the bin... you look like an asshole... ;)

  4. Was just introduced to your blog and so far, so awesome. I'm a derby newb and your wise words couldn't be coming at at better time. Thanks!