You Should Be Analyzing More Derby :: Arch Rival v Minnesota {The Big O 2016}

By June 30, 2016Analysis, Blog

We all hear that watching derby is the single best way (off-skates) to get better at playing it. And derby is hecka fun to watch, right? But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you mostly don’t do it.


High level derby can be hard to watch if you’re not used to it. Plus watching derby and analyzing derby are two different things.

  • How do you know what to pay attention to?
  • How do you think about what’s happening on the track and apply it to what you might do on the track?
  • It’s all moving so fast. HAAALLPP!

Here’s my contribution. The fourth installment in my “You Should be Analyzing More Derby” series.

This month’s bout is:

Arch Rival v Minnesota at The Big O 2016

The questions (and comments) below are to help you hone in on specific parts of the game and get you thinking like a derby analyst. These questions are by no means ALL OF THE THINGS that you could glean from this bout, but it’s a good place to start. You can download them in PDF version HERE.

The First Half

Jam #1 –> Just as the MRG jammer clears the pack, the ARRG pivot gets knocked out of bounds. She stands there and doesn’t immediately re-enter the pack. Why?

Jam #2 –> ARRG was about to execute an impressive offense swarm *just* before the jam gets called.

Jam #5 –> Great rotational defense from both teams at the beginning of this jam. When the pods rotate, which skater starts the movement?

Jam #5 –> ARRG also gives a little clinic on how to have a successful 3-wall as opposed to the pod formation. Both set-ups are working nicely for each team.

Jam #5 –> ARRG doesn’t see the MRG jammer race past on the inside. What was distracting them all? How did the MRG blockers position themselves to take advantage of this?

Jam #6 –> MRG starts the jam with only 2 blockers. How do they make up for this deficit to knock out the ARRG jammer?

Jam #6 –> ARRG begin in what appears to be a passive offensive set-up, but then swoop into play aggressive offense for their jammer. Why did they wait? What were they waiting for? What was the advantage?

Jam #7 –> I love that the announcers are calling this the “Battle of the Bricks”.

Jam #7 –> After the jammers get out, the feed only shows you what the blockers are doing. Based on how the blockers are moving and which team is where, what do you think the jammers are doing? Who’s in front?

Jam #10 –>Amazingly quick switch from defense to offense and back from Minnesota. Just after their jammer re-enters from the box check out how they divide and conquer.

Jam #12 –> Why does the MRG jammer have lead when the ARRG jammer escaped the pack first?

Jam #13 –> ARRG is spending a lot time in the box. Can MRG take advantage?

Jam #13 –> What are some strategies for your team/coach/bench coaches to use to regain control in situations where your team is starting to rack up the penalties?

Jam #14 –> LEAD CHANGE!! (Again.)

Jam #15 –> Quick, efficient star pass for MRG. Followed by some great offense by ARRG to get their jammer through for 4 points and then a call off.

Jam #16 –> Impressive penalty kill defense from MRG.

Jam #18 –> Check out that exit from the penalty box from the ARRG jammer! Keep your blocker head in a swivel!

Jam #20 –> Incredible defense by both teams until the walls converge. What could each team done to have been more effective at that moment?

Jam #21 –> Both jammers get free by using some patience. Pushing a little bit, moving a little bit, waiting for the right moment to strike. Gorgeous!

Jam #23 –> ARRG had the momentum for a fair amount at the beginning and now it’s switched to MRG. What do you think each team will talk about during the half?

HALFTIME SCORE = Arch Rival 75 Minnesota 116

The Second Half

Jam #3 –> Both of these teams have such similar playing styles. It’s interesting to watch them play each other — like a chess match!

Jam #4 –> Why are all these jams so fast?

Jam #5 –> For a second it looked like MRG *might* lose the pack because their bridge stretched too far, but nope. Both teams have been right on top of pack definition this bout.

Jam #7 –> Interesting power jam tactic from ARRG. What do you think their primary objective is with this strategy?

Jam #9 –> Midway through the jam ARRG does a great job thwarting the star pass. Not only keeping the jammer back from the pivot, but also staying alert for the pivot to come back and help.

Jam #9 –> When you’re jamming and you get lead jammer, but STILL have to skate the full 2 minutes, do you hate your life?

Jam #9 –> ARRG puts on a “how-to” on crushing the soul of the opposing jammer. Their blockers are so tenacious it looks like there is always one skater sitting on her. This is why waterfalling is so important!

Jam #10 –> MRG has a power jam and both teams line up at the pivot. Which team benefits most from this strategy? Why?

Jam #10 –> MRG does a great job staying in defensive formation while still give little hits to the ARRG blockers. See? You can do both at the same time!

Jam #13 –> A little jammer-on-jammer action right off the line. Why don’t you think that happens more often?

Jam #15 –> ARRG is at a pack disadvantage with only 2 skaters. Do you think a pivot line start (which they’re using) or a jam line start would help them be more effective? Why?

Jam #15 –> ARRG gives up on the MRG jammer immediately after she is declared lead despite the fact that there are 2 blockers within 3 feet of her. Both teams having been doing this quite a bit. Is there a strategic advantage to giving up on the jammer? If so, what is it?

Timeout –> This game is still winnable for both teams. What does ARRG need to focus on during this timeout? What about MRG?

Jam #16 –> Power jam! MRG attempts to play offense by sweeping from the out to the in. Why was this ineffective?

Jam #16 –> Another easy jammer re-entry from the box and initial pass. Who in your wall is responsible for watching the box to make sure that doesn’t happen to your team?

Jam #17 –> Interesting jam start formation from MRG: 3-wall right on the jammer line with the brace in front of ARRG, like a sandwich. How could that be effective? How could that be ineffective?

Jam #18–> ARRG’s jammer knocks out the MRG jammer and runs back. Was this a usual strategy in this instance? What could the ARRG blockers have done to make this more effective?

Jam #18 –> Both teams are showing off some impressive 2-wall blocking in this jam.

Jam #18 –> MRG’s jammer switches to solely defense for a second in this jam. Why do you think she made that choice?

Jam #20 –> Star pass backfires a bit for MRG. Power jam for ARRG.

Jam #20 –> ARRG is sticking to their power jam strategy of goating an opposing blocker. Look at the awareness they have of a blocker coming out of the box. How do they use that to their advantage?

Jam #21 –> Racing pack. Why is this happening? Did either team benefit?

Jam #22 –> ARRG’s jammer has lead jam and the MRG jammer has entered her scoring pass. What is the best strategic option for ARRG in this situation?

Timeout –> What does each team need to do in the last jam to win?

Jam # 23 –> Pivot jam start: What are the advantages and disadvantages here?

Timeout x 3 –> I’m dying over here… Why might MRG be using all of their timeouts at once?

Jam #24 –> How did ARRG manage to spread out MRG’s blockers to get their jammer through? Why did they need lead jam?

FINAL SCORE = Arch Rival 168 Minnesota 165

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Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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