Good on-track communication is one of the most important aspects of roller derby. From letting your blockers know where to watch for a pesky jammer, to helping you nail your 27 in 5 by letting other skaters know you're coming, communication is a huge factor in team work, strategy and calming the inevitable on-track chaos.
Here are 5 tips to improve your on-track communication.
1. Be assertive
They say there's no “sorry” in roller derby, and whilst there are some exceptions (“I'm sorry my pads smell so bad” being one), this rule definitely applies when communicating on track. Don't feel apologetic for letting someone know what's happening or where you're going. Be assertive, and communicate with confidence – your team mates will thank you for it.
2. Be loud
Whether you're practising drills on in a scrim, roller derby is deafening. Shout up to make yourself heard, and be brave enough to yell at full volume if you need to.
3. Be clear
Clarity is key when it comes to communicating. Pick short words or phrases with a clear meaning to quickly get your message across. “Inside”, “outside”, “on” (for a jammer not switching between blockers) and lane numbers are used by many teams, though sometimes common words, like “go”, can lose their meaning on track. Try to use words that make it clear exactly what you want; whilst “inside” gives a clear direction, terms like “go” or “that way” lack a specific aim, and could be confusing.
4. Agree on terms
Agreeing on what a word or phrase means for your team is very important, as it can clear up confusion and save time on track. Whilst most teams agree on where the lanes are, for example, you should make sure that everyone on your team is using the same terms.
This is especially true if you decide to use your own code words or signals. Whilst code words or hand gestures can be a great way to communicate whilst keeping your strategy a secret, agreeing your terms beforehand is crucial to avoid frustration.
Like everything in roller derby, communication takes practice. The track is a wild and often confusing place, but with practice, your team communication will become second nature. Get used to raising your voice and working together with your team for quick responses and great track awareness.