Everyone can play defense. Super. Defense is mega-important. Don't stop the defense party.
Offense, however, isn't valued nearly enough. Many teams don't play offense unless they have a power jam, and even then, they often focus on a passive offense. What I want to see are teams playing aggressive offense at the most opportune moments. Getting all the points! I love points. I know that sounds all jammery, but I'm not and never have been a jammer.
I didn't always feel this way about offense. In my first year of bouting I recall a moment in the jam when I was skating at the front of the pack with three opposing blockers. My jammer was behind me. I kept skating as the nothing-blocker and she looked at me, annoyed, and asked "what are you doing?" I had no response, but the answer was clearly nothing. I was doing nothing. The opposing jammer hadn't yet approached the pack, so there was time for me to play a little offense. I chose not to. Let me go on the record and say I fully regret that. And I fully regret that I continued to ignore my offensive game for the next few years.
Embarrassing, I know.
Why did I do that? Because I didn't think offense was that important. Jammers were responsible for getting the points, and I was responsible for protecting mine and the points of my friends in the pack. Plus, I think I might be a slow learner.
Over the last couple years, I've come to realize how crucial it is to play offense. Why? you ask. Well...
- You play on a team. If you can help a teammate during the jam, you should.
- There is always a job to do in the pack. ALWAYS. Don't be the nothing-blocker. Nothing's more embarrassing than looking at photos from the bout and not finding a single one of you doing damage. Or worse, watching footage of your non-performance.
- If you and your girls were in the club and four heifers stepped to one of your girls, would you sit at the bar and watch it go down? I hope the fuck not. So why would you ever let your jammer take on four blockers while you skate around?
- Jammers take the most beatings. They enter the pack and four blood-thirsty skaters try to take her down. (Perspective alert! You, as a blocker, almost never have four opponents trying to destroy your soul.) The more your jammer can skate through the pack untouched the more she can skate her face off to get points and the more she can enter the next jam fresh as a newly-washed knee pad.
- It is a full-scale tragedy, no shit, a tra-jah-dee, when a jammer works her baby-tush off to get lead and has to end the jam at 0-0 (when there was plenty of jammer separation) because her blockers didn't do a damn thing to help her get points. Shame on you if you allow the opposing blockers to form a Great Wall of (va)Gina and blast your jammer into full-on french kiss with the floor. Don't you love points? (I do!) Do you want to jam when your jammer is all beat up and can't go back in? (Gawd, no.)
If there is jammer separation, there's time for offense. You just have to know how much time you have to help your jammer (usually between 2-7 seconds) and be aware of when the opposing jammer returns so you can protect your point. Or, if you and your blocker friends are easily holding back the opposing jammer and she won't break through a smaller wall, tell your teammates that you are switching to offense and break away to help your jammer.
What's the best way to play offense? Move an opposing blocker off the track, take her down, or momentarily quarantine her to an area of the track. Easy point. Or easy points if she has teammates in the box. The idea is that you use your body to make sure an opponent cannot touch your beautiful-baby-jammer. This, however, will be exhausting if you are playing against good defensive blockers. Don't give up. If you are late to the offensive game and someone is already tearing into your jammer, make sure you take on the blocker that's doing the damage, not blocking the non-threatening opponent at the back of the pack when your jammer is up front. Hustle your ass up there and move that menacing blocker.
So, in case I didn't make this clear: Offense is mega-super-hella-wicked-important. It's not that hard. Well, it kind of is, at least in the beginning, but you can do it. And you should. Please. Do it for the jammers. Do it for the starving orphans. Do it for the seagull strangled in a six-pack plastic thingy. Do it for herpes. Whoa. What? That's not true. You won't get herpes if you do it.
You get the point. (No pun intended. Wait, yes, pun intended.) Offense is the new defense. Get on it.