Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to Watch Derby to Learn Stuff and Junk

I'm heading to Asheville this weekend with my silly bean bag chair.  We're going to park ourselves, as close as possible to the action, and then I'm going to be watching all of the high powered derby ever!  Unfortunately for me, I tend to watch actively, so this is going to be an exhausting weekend even if I'm not skating!

I notice a lot of people don't sit down to watch derby in a way to learn from it, which is ok sometimes.  There's nothing wrong with cheering for the team you love and not giving a rat's ass about strategy or the philosophy of the team you're cheering for!  But, when you have a situation where you can watch multiple bouts of derby and watch the same teams multiple times, as a derby player, you really should take advantage of the opportunity before you.  Also, TAKE NOTES!  If you watch enough derby, your brain turns into derby soup.  Take notes with each game!

1.  Watch the warm ups.  You can tell a lot about a team's philosophy and what they've been really working on by how they run their warm ups.  After watching Texas this weekend, I knew that they really focus on their clean and small stops; true to their warm ups, the Texas blockers were amazing to watch as they absolutely shut down jammer after jammer.

You can also tell a lot about the player by how she warms up.  Some people need their own space and music, some are just focused on their inner game, and some are smiling and chattering with another player, maybe even doing some silly booty blocking.  People's personalities are really on display during a warm up.

If I see a warm up that I particularly like or think is effective, I totally steal it.  Yoink!  Mine now!  It's so much easier to take a drill after you've seen people do it successfully.  It's too easy to read about a drill and totally screw it up, so I consider watching teams my demo for how to run certain drills, especially if I see a team warming up with a drill I just read and wanted to try on

2.  Think about the overall strategy of the team.  I tend to watch one team at a time, which is hard to do when you want to watch all the awesome ever!  I will pick the team I want to follow at a tournament and watch how they choose their rosters, implement their strategy and see who their successful jammers are.  Do they like the front or the back?  Who did they leave off of their roster?  Did they roster that particular skater in the next game?  Who were their hot jammers?  All of these variables can change from game to game, so following a team through multiple games can be very enlightening.  You can also pose these questions to yourself for fun.

a.  If you were captain who would you have placed on the roster for this game?  (Sometimes making an investment in a tournament program can be very helpful for this situation)
b.  Who is their most effective jammer?  Why?
c.  Is their strategy successful against the team they're playing?  Why or why not?
d.  If you could talk to their coach, what advice would you give?
e.  What is the weakness and strength of the team you're watching?  (You're not allowed to say 'their strength is Gotham,' that's cheating.)
f.  Ask yourself what you would have to improve on or change in your skating style to skate with that team.  Sometimes it's going to be nothing.  Sometimes it's going to seem like your list could go on until 2014 Champs!

3.  Finally, you should watch all of the skaters and find someone you want to emulate.  Yes, everyone loves Bonnie Thunders; you can also pick and learn things from skaters you haven't seen before.  Try to pick a goal that you can work towards when you are at practice.  You don't even have to mention it to anyone formally, but make sure you're keeping that goal in your head as you work on drills and scrimmage.
And maybe you can talk to her in real life!  Photo by Punk Blocker!

The greatest thing about the play-offs is that you can watch the games again in the archives!  Watching games multiple times can really help you isolate strategy, especially if you got caught up in the game when you were watching it live!


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