Enough Sausage Already!
Remember the days when blockers put
forth effort to actively get opposing blockers out of the way so the
jammer could make it through the pack? I know this may be a foreign
concept to some of you newer skaters, especially those in a league
that latched onto the “Sausage” strategy after it was debuted by
Gotham Girls Roller Derby a couple Championships ago.
If you don't know what I'm talking
about, the Sausage, also known as passive offense, is an offensive
strategy where blockers skate on the outside of the track in a single
file line in order to force opposing blockers out-of-play.
This isn't the first time someone has
griped about this strategy; however, the articles I've read have
focused on fan perspective – the Sausage is horribly boring to
watch – yet I believe that is just a symptom and the real issue has
yet to be addressed. Let's take a closer look at this controversial
method used for offense and see if we find the true disease plaguing
How it Works
Here is a simple, step-by-step
explanation of this strategy in an ideal situation:
“A” team is on a power jam
(the jammer from “B” team is in the penalty box)
B blockers want to speed up the
pack so it takes longer for the opposing jammer to reach the pack.
A blockers know B blockers will
race and increase pack speed if A blockers try to sprint up to make
holes, get a goat, swarm, or sweep to one side and will use this to
When jammer A is about a quarter
track away from the pack (or a little less, depending on how fast
she is skating), one or more of A blockers sprint as if they are
coming to play offense for their jammer and B blockers sprint to
stay ahead of the blocker(s) but still remain in play.
When the pack is almost at turn 1
or 3, A blockers move to the outside of the track in a single file
line while remaining in-play and at the newly established pack
As the pack travels around the
turns, B blockers will be engaged with jammer A on the inside of the
track while A blockers have further to travel around the outside of
the track, causing the distance between the two groups of blockers
to increase until there is no pack and B blockers have to release
Blockers from both teams must
reestablish the pack after “No Pack” is called. At this point,
pack speed usually decreases until jammer A reaches the pack again
and the whole thing repeats itself...A blockers sprint forward, B
blockers run away, A blockers move to the outside of the track, B
blockers become out of play, jammer A is released again.
When it Should Be Used
Sounds like a solid strategy, right?
Well, it pains me to say this (I'll explain why soon), but it can be
effective when implemented at the appropriate time. The perfect time
for blockers to use the Sausage strategy is when 1) they are on a
power jam, 2) the opposing blockers are ahead of them on the track,
and 3) B blockers sprint when approached by A blockers. If any of
these elements are missing, the Sausage is not going to be effective
and other offensive strategies need to be implemented.
Why it Isn't Working
As described above, there is a specific
time when Sausaging is effective, yet many teams either don't
understand the strategy well enough to implement it at the
appropriate time, or don't know/aren't well versed in other offensive
strategies. Because of this, blockers now often slowly drift to the
outside edge of the track when their jammer needs to get out of the
pack. They do this even when the pack speed is very slow, opposing
blockers don't speed up when approached, and the pack is not entering
a turn, so instead of the opposing blockers quickly becoming
out-of-play and being forced to release the jammer, she gets pummeled
by opposing blockers. Sometimes the jammer is even dragged backward
on the track after being hit out of bounds, all the while her
“friendly” blockers are single-file on the outside of the
track...playing “offense.” Well, to tell the truth, they are
definitely doing something, ahem, offensive.
Since the Sausage is often misused,
jammers quickly become exhausted or hurt when blockers could employ
much more efficient strategies. Some of these strategies include:
Geting a Goat: Hit an opposing
blocker of bounds, bridge clockwise on the track as far as possible,
and when that opposing blocker reenters the track all fellow
blockers skate clockwise on the track to create the pack close to
the goat, causing the other opposing blockers to be out-of-play.
When the new pack gets close to the other opposing blockers, hit the
Goat out of bounds and bridge clockwise to once again create a pack
where the Goat reenters the track.
(Wo)Man on (Wo)Man: As the jammer
approaches, each blocker hits an opposing blocker so they fall or
skate out of bounds.
Screening: Blockers maneuver so
they will be between the opposing blockers and the jammer. The
opposing blockers won't be able to get close to the jammer. This is
especially effective if implemented before the opposing blockers are
able to form walls.
Plea to Fellow Athletes
We spend countless hours sweating,
falling, bruising, bleeding, and breaking, then embrace a strategy
where we literally do nothing. In what other sport does that happen?
As athletes, we should be offended by this strategy, I know I am. Let's stop doing nothing and urge our teammates to use effective strategies and start with the ones I listed here if you need help getting started. We can get rid of the Sausage, we just have to do...something.
Until we skate again,