Being a little on the smaller side of life and playing a full contact sport (with mainly giants), you have to learn fast about your strengths and weakness. Here are a few tips that have worked for me:
1 – BECOME STRONG
You need to be able to HOLD YOUR SPACE and not get easily pushed out of bounds. Being small you will never be able to muscle over someone who has more mass than you so don’t try to, instead work out to minimize the impact. I think it’s physics or something…? Anyway off skate training is a MUST for smaller jammers. For me, I find heavy weights at low reps are most effective with a combination of tabata intervals of cardio that work on explosive power and fast twitch. I dislike running with a passion – I mean, I REALLY HATE RUNNING – so I’ve worked hard to find cross-training that I enjoy doing that gets me the gains I want.
2 – FAST RECOVERY
You are closer to the ground so you get down there and theoretically can up quicker than most giants around you (pretty sure that’s science). Catch the blockers off guard! Burpees are your friend!!
3 – FAST FEET
Being small you’ve probably found driving on a solid wall of giants is near impossible. Yes, being stronger and have a powerful drive will help but physics gets you down (again). Therefore, you need to use your footwork to make the wall move and take swings, make the giants make a mistake. Take advantage of the movement within the wall to slip on through as being smaller there is less to grab hold of – ie you have smaller target zones…that’s less space for them to hit. Agility drills help in this area. This year I started Taekwondo and sparring practice of keeping my feet moving has greatly improved my agility.
4 – THINK “SKATE SMARTER NOT HARDER!”
We smaller jammers need to out think our giant opponent to make up for the gap in size. Study your opposition, watch footage of them skating against other small jammers and see what’s successful. Get your own team to help you recreate moments that you are struggling with. Try and think one step ahead, rather than jamming reactively.
5 – THE ONE HAND TRICK
One arm or hand on the ground outside of the track does not render a Skater out of bounds. Practice it, use it. It may not work all the time but it beats getting drawn back 20ft.
Remember, we may be are tiny but we are mighty!
Be smart, be fast, and recover strong.
Hi my name is ShortStop or Shorty.
I started skating in July 2009 for the Canberra Roller Derby League located in Canberra, Australia. In 2015, I made the big move to NYC to skate for Gotham Girls Roller Derby. I have just celebrated my 32nd birthday, am 5’ 1½” tall and about 110lb. Before I started roller skating for derby I didn’t know how to skate. Everything you see me do comes down to hard work, practice, believing in myself and loving what I do!