On Monday I had a small group lesson with Miss Mel Mangles. It was great! It was just me and one other girl. We worked on starts and it was very helpful for me. We started off by just getting our stance right, staying low and focusing on a point out in front of us. This way when we leave the jammer line with our focus on that spot it helps prevent standing up to run. This keeps us low and our momentum stays going forward rather than up.
We also focused on going as far as we could on our toe stops. At first I could only do about 2 -3 steps on my toe stops before going into my duck walk. By the end of the lesson I could go about 15 feet nearly 20. This was a HUGE improvement for me. She then wanted to make sure that we did our crossovers through the whole turn rather than gliding around the apex.
The next bit was harder but makes sense. After doing your toe run your first duck step should be with the inside foot (aka your left foot). Imagining that your left foot is making an attempt to pull yourself towards the inside of the track. This was a difficult thing to do but makes sense as far as switching into the crossovers. I think it was hard because I’m right sided and take my first steps with my right foot. This is something I’ll continue to work on for sure. The one time I pulled it off it made my transition into the corner much easier and smoother.
We then worked on the mind games that happen at the jammer line. Anyone who has watched a game as seen the jammers nearly on top of one another. She went over some strategies and how to overcome them. We worked on starting right on top of the other jammer at either side of the track and how to get them out of bounds. This was totally new for me but really informative.
We also worked on watching the packs wheels in order to anticipate when the jammer whistle will blow. (for those who may not know, the jammer whistle doesn’t blow until the all blockers have passed the pivot line. So you watch the blockers wheels for when they pass that line) This was harder for me as I think I’m better at reacting to sound then sight. Mel acted as the pack and had the whistle and the two of us were racing to pass her first. We added in trying to get each other out of bounds as well. We were doing pretty good until the other girl knocked me down. I feel in 4 point fall and she tripped over my out stretched leg. This would have been fine but she fell on an old injury. We stopped for a bit while she recovered.
After that we worked on a pace line. I’m a bit slower then both of them but was able to get some tips on how to continue doing a cross over all the way around the track. I feel pretty good about my crossovers but know I need a lot of work. I still get nervous when I pick up to much speed. I also have an issue in the pace line where the person in front of me slows down I feel I can’t do my crossover. I’m afraid of kicking them or tripping them and myself. Mel noticed that my right leg goes out and kind of swings around the front of my left leg. She suggested instead to do more of a lateral step over my left leg. This decreases the space in front of me that I use.
This was hard to do at first but is getting more natural. I think of it more like a cross under with my left then a crossover with my right. I’m eager for practiced to try this out in a larger pace line.