Thursday, December 27, 2012

SEAHAWKS - football is as roller derby does

Over the years of my derby career a funny thing started to happen...

I started to understand AND LIKE other sports. How peculiar. It was slow at first but now I can relate ANY sport to roller derby. Game play, strategy, training, positions, etc. There is pretty much always a derby equivalent.

I have found that studying and learning other sports is making me a better derby player. I better derby thinker. A SPORTS THINKER. And a better coach.

Let's think about FOOTBALL. Specifically the Seahawks. Because I LOVE them. GO HAWKS!

This last game against the 49ers was like watching Da Vinci  paint the Mona Lisa. It was like watching Dale Chihuly blow glass. It was like watching that fight scene in 300. Or any scene from Fight Club. It was art. It was war. It was spectacular.

I had some of the kids I coach watching the football game. I wanted them to see what I saw. See how other sports and their sport are similar. How they can learn from watching others. What it means to fight until the end. What it means to be a team. They really impressed me with how they embraced the sport and learned from it. Also some of us did squats during commercials. Can't do too many squats.

There were perfect moments in that game. A perfect body screen to let the the guy running with the ball get a few more yards. Just like a derby screen can get your jammer a few more points. There were perfect fake outs and jukes. The Hawks were able to fake and clear. Just like a jammer can fake or juke a blocker to get around her.

The agility and footwork of the Hawks makes me want to run ladders for days. It shows how important foot placement can be. It shows how you must have full command of your whole body.

Did you see how they will stiffen their legs and straighten their toes as they catch to make sure they have both feet in bounds? They have to know where they are in relation to out of bounds. There is no rope - they practice so much they just KNOW. They eye it, anticipate and execute to make a fair catch. As in derby you must know where the out of bounds is, the imaginary line of OUT OF PLAY and know when you can hit and not hit.

Did you see Wilson run with the ball and slide just over the line to make a first down and avoid tackle? He doesn't see that big LINE on the screen like we do when we watch it on TV. He has spotted it before the play, he knew where he needed to get to to make a first down. He went for it - just far enough to get the first down but not risk losing the ball or getting injured. Just as a jammer needs to be aware of where she is at, if she is lead then she must be aware of the points she is getting. She can call it off in the pack and still get all 4 if she has legally passed them all (they may have recycled up but she has their point) saving herself time and energy and risk getting penalties or losing lead jammer (banked).

Did you see how many guys are on the side lines? Slapping helmets, giving pep talks and chest bumps? They win as a team. Each one of them has a role off the field just as important as when they are on the field. Especially those who never make it on the field. Those are the guys who pushed them at practice. Who support them. Give them pep talks and constructive advice. There are plenty more players on a football team than can play on the field on game day. Or those injured. They are also there to support. It is the same in derby. The skaters who don't make roster NEED to be there to support the rest of the team. The skaters on the bench who get less play time need to be there when skaters come off the track. Give them feedback, pump them up, pep talk them to the next jam. That is just as important as being on the track. It also keeps you ready and pumped up for when they do put you in.

I like to fancy myself a little bit Marshawn Lynch...
            (Marshawn photo found on Tumbler, can't find photo credit, BFG photo by Jules Doyle)

This is from an article I read about the Seahawks offense.

"Lynch is a hard-nosed, physical runner with outstanding vision, instincts and cutback skills. He excels at reading blockers at the point of attack and has a knack for finding creases in the middle of the defense. Most importantly, Lynch is a bruising finisher who blows through defenders at the end of runs"

Seriously, it's like he is describing roller derby. READING BLOCKERS is so important in derby. Anticipating someones move is crucial because unless they are stopped by the time you get to them they won't be where they were when you started to go at them. To get the best angle on a hit you must read where they are going.

Okay - I am NO Marshawn Lynch but I FANCY myself as one. I do LOVE to hit and blow thru people. And I know how to read a pack, have good derby instincts. He is inspiring me to really work at my RUNNER part, and agility. I do heart agility.

Now I just need to find out what kind of gum Pete Carroll chews for when I coach. I wish I could shadow him for a day. OR even like an hour. I would bring him coffee. Or gum. He is my coach hero. I heart him more than sparkly things. And we all know how much BFG loves sparkly things.

Pete Carrol pic from
BFG pic by Manburger

I may not know all the players names (yet) or know all the correct football terms but I know the sport of it. I am learning more and more every time I watch. I want to bring what I learn to my game, my home team or any team I play on but especially to the kids I coach. GO HAWKS! GO GO GALAXY GIRLS!!!

And I really want a 12 man shirt. A really cool one. What a great number.