Imagine the following scenario…
Your team is down by 2 points going into the last jam. You are already tired, but all of your fellow jammers are tired as well. Your coach gives you the star and tells you to get out there. You line up on the jammer line, star on your helmet, ready to go. You glance at the jammer standing next to you and see the determination in her eyes. Before you know it, the whistle blows! You take off. All of the sudden, the other jammer gets a back block (YES!). But then you get whistled off for a forearm (WHAT?!). You race to the box and get there right after the other jammer. You both get up relatively quickly and head back onto the track. Now it’s ON. Two minute jam, points to be scored. You have to leave it all on the track and fight for every point.
↑ This is what I imagine my “determined” face looks like.
Too bad it actually looks like this. ↓
In the scenario above, it is somewhat easy to imagine a jammer going as hard as she can for 2 whole minutes. I mean, the crowd is cheering, your team is yelling from the bench, and there is no more game left to be played.
But what if the scenario was mid-game, and you were up by 45 points? Would you still bring the same intensity to those two minutes?
Having mental fortitude is a big part of being a successful athlete. You must be mentally strong regardless of the competitiveness of play. Most people think of this as giving 110% at the end of a bout or not choking during an important moment of play. However, I like to focus on the opposite – giving as much as I can during those less-competitive moments (and treating them like those do-or-die situations).
My teams have lost a lot of close bouts, and I have found that the people playing in those last couple of jams blame themselves for the loss. If only we had scored a few more points in those last jams! If only we hadn’t had 2 penalties at the end! However, derby is 60 minutes of playtime – why would the last 4 minutes be the most important?!
So when I take the line to jam, I think about playing hard NOW – even with 19:45 left on the clock. Who knows, it may be the difference between winning and losing at the end of the bout. It takes immense mental fortitude to make yourself skate hard when you don’t feel that competitive pressure weighing down on you.
Here are two of my jammer pet peeves that can be overcome by mental fortitude (I still do both of these on occasion…we’re not perfect):
1. Not skating as fast as possible around the track to get back to the pack during a power jam. This is your time to score points!! This is how you win a game!!
2. Thinking that you need to save energy during long jams because you have a lot of bout left. There are other jammers on your team!! You will have at least a few minutes to rest, and if you’re in shape, this should be plenty of recovery time!!
So when you are jamming and you feel like you can take it easy or save your energy, fight to feel the URGENCY in scoring points! Think of your future self and how you want to have no regrets at the end of the bout. Fight for every point!