Yesterday during practice, a vet asked me if I had ever heard of the “friendly side”. I shook my head, because that thing was new to me. Just like “eating the baby” or “trapping a goat”, the derby jargon sounds like it was born in a fantasy novel.
She proceeded to explain the friendly side to me. In short, as a jammer, I should always look for the blocker(s) who’s/are on my team and use her/them to get me through the pack, instead of ramming into the opposing jammers, and potentialy getting trapped or desperately trying to move them with my mightiest power, and wearing myself out in the process. I knew the concept of “don’t go for the opposing team” sounded logical, but in practice, especially when looking for holes at the start of a jam to get out of there quickly as lead, my first thought wasn’t to go for my blockers. My first thought was: how the heck do I break through that impenetrable wall of opposing blockers, who are looking at me like they want to crush my soul, and make it out alive?
Picture my Eureka moment. The friendly side is a pretty good tool to have in my derby kit, especially when I can use my own blockers as shield and weapons to move through the pack.
Obviously, as I’m looking for holes, I also need to be aware of where my blockers are. If they’re not anywhere around, I’m going to get my soul crushed a little bit. That’s where sharks and seals come in.
A great video to watch and learn about sharks and seals is the one by Bonnie D. Stroir, where she refers to sharks and seals to understand the strategy about navigating the pack, and staying pretty much alive as the jammer-seal is being hunted by these bloodthirsty blocker-sharks. The strategy makes complete sense.
Don’t let the sharks win!