I will preface this with: I don’t necessarily consider myself A Small™, but I often get told that I am. Also– These tips can probably help you out no matter your size!
There is this old stereotype in roller derby that if you are A Small you are a Jammer type, and if you are A Large you are a blocker type. If your trainers or coaches (or even fellow skaters) still believe this, it’s time to sit them down and review some footage.
Want to tighten your blocking skill set and show the world that sizes doesn’t matter? Do this shit:
1. WATCH ALL OF THE WFTDA.TV FOOTAGE. Okay, you don’t have to watch all of it. Watch some Champs games and pick out players that look to be your body shape and size. If you don’t know exactly where to start, ask a coach or teammate who they think of when they look at you. Or even just ask what their favorite game they watched recently was. There is someone out there that looks like you and skates like you and is crushing it! Watch for fun and then watch it again and take notes. Studying derby is important for any skaters growth.
2. BE RELENTLESS. Just because you are smaller than an opponent doesn’t mean you can’t do the thing. You may just need to work harder to achieve the thing. Maybe your teamie can hit that skater out of bounds with one hit, but it takes you three rapid fire hits. SO WHAT. Sometimes it catches an opponent more off guard when you 1. Make an attempt they were not expecting and/or 2. Don’t give up.
3. BE FASTER THAN YOUR OPPONENT. Do your gosh dang off skates. Train with burpees, HIIT, a personal trainer, etc. so that when you do get thrown, knocked down, or need to be the one to get there, you can do it faster. Come to peace with the fact that you probably aren’t an immovable object out there, especially if there is someone on the track that is many times your size. Play to your strengths!
4. BE AWARE. It’s likely you will be targeted more if your teamies on the track appear more sizeable. That’s fine. Keep your peepers open and be ready to step into or avoid oncoming hits.
5. LET THEM THINK YOU AREN’T A HAZARD. Listen here, I live to be underestimated. I don’t look like someone who is going to target anyone or clear a lane with my offense, but I can plenty of the time. Flying under the radar has its advantages.
6. IT’S OKAY TO USE YOUR SIDE OR YOUR CHEST. You don’t always have to use your butt. I cover a lot more ground and can slow and control a jammer better with my side or my chest. I’m not saying to STOP using your butt entirely. I am also not saying always aim to be backwards. It is a dangerous and legal target zone you are offering up to your opponent. This means you need to train to be strong in this positioning if you are going to use it frequently. Specifically– engage your core, sink lower, and work on stepping into impact as it is approaching you.
7. MASTER YOUR EDGES. A lot of skating weaknesses stem from poor edge control. Micro-movements are incredibly important when it comes to digging in, slowing down, and controlling where you want to take your opponent. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE SMALLER THAN THEM. All edge work will improve your game, but mastering tight, smaller cuts and motions with and without contact will help you level up your blocking abilities.
8. GO JAM SOMETIMES. There, I said it. Here’s the thing: you will gain secret insider knowledge of what a jammer is most likely to do (or should do) and in turn your track awareness will grow.
Your size, whether it be big or small is not a downfall in roller derby. You can fit into any role: jammer, blocker, whatever… if you put in the work.