Posts Tagged ‘OSDA’

Active Pivot Rules and Delayed Breakouts

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That’s no ordinary pivot back there: It’s an active pivot that is eligible to score. There is a lot of strategy behind that stripe. (Photo Credit: Joe Rollerfan)

The three roller derby rule sets that use the active pivot—a pivot that is eligible to break and score only once the opposing jammer has become lead—results in quick-hitting play.

This addition—better said, restoration—to MADE, OSDA, and USARS rules changes how teams must approach strategy on a jam-by-jam and game-long basis. The tactics that teams have at their disposal on offense with an active pivot, and the corresponding considerations they must deal with on defense, makes these versions of roller derby very dynamic.

It also tends to make them quite fast. Teams need to press forward to protect or envelop the pivots at the front of the pack, as well as cover the incoming jammer at the rear. Because such a defense naturally spreads a team out, it must speed up to help keep opposing blockers behind them more easily.

Of course, players will have to slow down at some point to get their jammer out, blocking opponents to score. Still, the quicker an individual player or team is, the more strategy options they would have available to them when playing in a faster game. They would be capable of doing things at speed that a lesser-skilled team could.

However, this doesn’t automatically mean that the faster team will always win in the active pivot game. Speed is only one component of the roller derby equation. A good team should also be proficient at using their brains to come up with counter-tactics against a fast team, then using their brawn to execute those tactics better than their opponents.

Which is why when I see a team with lead jammer do this, especially when it happens over and over, I have to wonder where their brains are:

Once an inexperienced, slow, or otherwise outmatched jammer breaks from the pack to pick up lead status, a pivot with a speed and positional advantage will activate and chase. If the speed differential between these two players is significant, it will almost always result in an instant jam call-off.

Jammers that find themselves in this situation are entering a speed race that they are certain to lose. Teams that do this frequently—as seen above—may appear to have no chance to score points on most jams, as it looks to be impossible to stop a fast pivot consistently laying claim to or otherwise sandbagging at the front of the pack.

But even if a team isn’t fast enough, they can still be smart enough and good enough to score in an apparently disadvantageous situation.

The way to go about turning the tables sounds counter-intuitive: Have the jammer not go out on a scoring pass. At least, not immediately.

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