I once saw a sign in the window of someone’s Camaro, NEED HELP CALL POLICE. It was one of those sun blockers you put on your windshield on hot summer days. For years I thought about that sign. Like, what a weird thing to put on your car. I assumed it meant; if you need help- you should call the police. It was this odd friendly advice sign slash sun blocker thing. It wasn’t until I watched that movie “Alive” where the Brazilian rugby team gets stranded in the mountains and they start eating each other. Then I realized, they should have had one of those signs.
My point is, without good communication we would all be cannibals. It’s science. So, let’s talk. Let’s be friends. And let’s be frank. Just the other day, I found myself screaming “USE YOUR VAGINA!!!” and realized…this is not the most effective communiqué. So what is? LOL
There's a lot to cover when it comes to communication so here are some highlights:
Just do it.
The first thing to remember about communicating on the track is this; Actions speak louder than words. Saying something is no replacement for doing some work. If you miss a jammer call it out while you reposition yourself to block her again. If you get fenced in yell, “I NEED HELP!” while juking and hitting your way out. Don’t yell and wait for someone else to do work- do work yourself. Remember that you are accountable for this jam, this pass, this moment.
When we’re on the track (ok, and at the after party) I want you to touch me. Coming up on the inside? Touch my left hip and let me know you got that line. You see the jammer on my outside? Give me a little nudge in her general direction. Am I running away from you? Grab my jersey- get your wall together. When you’re on the track- think of your teammates as an extension of your body. Check in with them and let them check in with you. All. The. Fucking. Time.
Give away the opposing jammer’s position with one point of your finger. Point to a gaping hole in your defense and get some help to fill it. This is easy and effective, and I promise the opposing jammer will pretty much hate you for it.
Have a plan.
Size up the competition and get a plan in place while you have 5 or 30 seconds. Now’s the time to use all your new found awareness to the good. Who’s in the box? How does that change the plan? What’s the jammer like? What are you going to do about it? A good Pivot will base her/his plans on the abilities of their pack. You think you can go one on one with that jammer? Speak up. Are you the least experienced? Ask for the inside line, and protect that shit. Do you have 3 minors? Maybe you’re not the one for this power jam. Use that huge brain to beat your opponent before you ever take the track. In fact, use all five of the brains you got.
Things change and so do you. You had a pack practically stopped when you see the opposing jammer stand in the penalty box. You have ten seconds to get to the front with all your friends and run away from the point maker. While you’re moving to the front you should be shouting, pointing, and pulling at your teammates. We’ve talked about switching from defense to offense in 5 seconds, be prepared to change your strategy that fast if it’s not working. Communication is key in these situations. You need to get everyone on the same page- and now.
We’re not making full sentences. We’re not contemplating the way of the buffalo. Use your outside voice and say it all with a few words. “TO THE FRONT!” “Fall BACK!” “Run!” “Slow!” “Outside/Inside” “No Jammer!” “GET HERRRRR!” “NEED HELP!” By the time you get a complete sentence past your mouth guard, the moment is over.
Say my name.
Say my name and you’ve got my attention- even if I’m not looking at you. So don’t just stand there alone in the back of the pack, say it- “BUNNIE- I NEED AN ADULT!!” and I’ll be there in a flash. Never be afraid to ask for help, we’re always better together. You alone blocking someone with fancy feet? Call a friend to help fence them in. Never be afraid to ask for help, but remember roller girls help those who help they selves.
Be a secret squirrel sometimes; everything doesn’t need to be broadcast. Did you spot a goat that needs to be caught? Tap a teammate and give a little nod in the unsuspecting goat’s general direction. Whisper to your jammer before the jam starts, “I’m your offense, follow me.”
It’s a two way Track.
As much as you talk, you should listen. Your own jammer has something to say and she’s not trying to waste her breath if it isn’t important so listen to her when she’s coming up on the pack. Listen for your Pivot- remember the plan can change ten times in one jam and you have to be ready to make an adjustment.
You got something against shenanigans? How about the time I told your jammer to call it off …and she did. Yeah, totally useless. Take the opposing teams mind and fuck it. Tell them it’s your first bout. You just lost a contact, your vagina hurts. “I can’t feel my feet…Can you feel my feet?” Tell them their jammer went to the box, you love red box, you’re allergic to socks. “Yeah man, I got a rash.” Tell them there’s no pack, you smoke three packs a day, their skates are untied. “This jam is no contact, right?” And while they are thinking about the dumb shit you just said, take action.
How do Bunnie?
Keep constant dialogues spinning in your mind. Remember that awarebearness checklist? Run through that. Get comfortable calling the next play in your head. Start to say it under your breath. Soon there will be a time when your adrenaline is pumping and you realize that voice calling out orders is ::gasp:: YOUR VOICE.
Remember when we talked about knowing what’s up at all times? Now that you are an awarebear- it’s time to clock in. No thinking about jelly beans and unicorns, you are personally responsible for staying alert- and letting your team know it. When you communicate effectively with your teammates you’re nurturing those bonds between you and building your tight knit bee hive. All. The. Fucking. Time.