Today I was over in Lincoln refereeing a scrim between Lincoln and Leicester. There were five referees in total, and I was FIPR. It was a good scrim, and while it was fast paced in places nothing too unusual happened.
There were some moments where communication could have been better from myself, but overall I’m pleased with my efforts.
This was confirmed by the head referee giving positive feedback, especially on my echoing and handling no pack situations and assessing penalties where appropriate.
Both team benches also had positive feedback for the referee crew, saying the calls were consistent and clear, and they were happy with the officiating overall.
A personal first, I called a double-penalty on a skater - the second one being for illegal reentry after being waved back from a full penalty box. Took me a moment to figure out what happened, and how to communicate it to the PBM, but it was a good experience!
This brings my total up to 8 scrims refereed! Next up, 28th June in Derby.
This morning I was at Nottingham Hellfire Harlots refereeing their closed door scrim against Oxford. This was my seventh time refereeing a scrim, and second as RIPR.
There were only four referees, and the teams insisted on jammer referees so we were all on the infield.
It was a challenge, mainly because of the high level of the players and the lack of OPR referees, but it was really good fun and a great experience.
I had two of my penalty calls challenged in an official review - one from each team. This was also a good experience, as I needed to explain my actions for calling the penalties and keep with the language of the rules while doing so.
It was noted how my referee skills are improving too, which was really nice to hear. I’ve been putting in some extra effort studying the rules lately, and the Sunday scrim practise sessions at home league training have been really helping.
Actually, tonight, I’ll be talking rules to the beginners during the coaching session. I’ll be covering relative position, cutting, and skating out of bounds. Fun times!
This evenings Sunday scrim practice went really well! I had a couple of great NSOs who all knew their jobs and just got on with it - pretty much no input from me required! A very proud moment. We also had a full inside track crew and one OPR for the corner (small sports hall, no OPR lane).
I took on jammer referee and did scoring for the first time, and it was actually rather enjoyable. I found keeping score and keeping track of passed blockers not as difficult as I had imagined, but it was a challenge to keep track of jammer lap points and ‘not on the track’ points.
Personally though, I think I prefer watching the pack for blocker penalties and pack definition, but that’s not to say I am opposed to JR. Maybe it’s just because I’ve done that far more often so it’s more in my comfort zone.
But my main reason for putting together this post is to express how pleased and proud I am that the officials at Mansfield Roller Derby have improved and grown in to a very efficient and knowledgeable team!
Yesterday saw Mansfield Roller Derby hosting a double-header closed door scrim against Dundee first, and then against Borderlands.
I was tasked with organising all officials for the day, making sure that all the required referee and NSO positions were filled. Dundee brought a few referees, one from nearby Derby, one from Borderlands, one from Nottingham, and me.
Mansfield supplied all the NSOs, which was absolutely fantastic. Training them on our Sunday scrim practises really paid off. Every NSO did a spot on job, there were no problems or last minute training sessions, and I’m incredibly proud of the little crew of NSOs I’m helping to build!
It was an absolute joy to work alongside the referees, and I was absorbing as much as possible from Head Ref Righteous Oxide on the day. Fantastic communication from him towards referees, NSOs and skaters. Always cool and collected, and took everything in his stride. Referee goals.
I was OPR for both games, and that brought my total to six. We worked in the “skate and wait” rotation, which really does work well if done properly. I’m getting more comfortable with it and knowing when to recycle back to the other corner. Although sometimes I did get a little caught up in watching some action and overstepped my position.
Called a couple of penalties as I saw them, and also did several conscious no-calls. I even remembered to signal NP/NP when appropriate, which I was pleased about.
Feedback from referees was positive, along with some suggestions on areas to work on, which is very useful.
Mayra was Head NSO for the day, and with some small assistance from me in preparation and set-up, she did a fantastic job. She handled pretty much all the organisation on the day and ensured everyone was set up and ready to do their roles.
I had a fantastic day, and by all accounts, all the officials and skaters enjoyed the day too. Everything went, from my perspective, without a hitch and as smooth as clockwork.
I was in Leicester yesterday evening refereeing some roller derby scrim fun. I like travelling to Leicester, as I’ve gotten to know a few of the NSOs and referees in that area.
There were a few new names and faces on the officiating crew, and that’s always good - I get to see how other people work, pick up some new ideas, and get a different perspective on things.
Yesterday was no different. It was a great experience, and I confidently called several penalties. I was on the outside track in a very noisy sports all, so I made sure my verbal cues were loud enough to be heard on the in-field. I had no complaints, so I assume I was heard. The skaters certainly heard me clearly, as they left the track promptly.
There were some pack definition issues by the skaters of both teams, so the head referee had us watch closely for various “no pack penalties”. This is a relatively untouched area for me, in that I’m more usually calling various contact-related penalties as opposed to technical gameplay-related penalties. If that makes sense.
Having just two OPRs, it was a little tricky to figure out where best to be positioned. The narrow outside referee lane didn’t really help matters! A corner of my eye was always on that wall, especially during fast pack situations.
However, I’m really pleased with how it went and I’ve come away with a few things to think of.
- Pack definition penalties. Identify what penalty is being committed during a no-pack, and respond with the correct verbal cue and hand signal.
- Less-than-three OPR positioning. Work on getting that angled coverage, rather than being close to the pack. Especially when the OPR lane is very narrow.
Last weekend was British Champs T4 West game day three, which was my leagues home bout. We hosted in Nottingham and saw two great games of roller derby.
I was Penalty Box Manager for both bouts, supported by a new NSO from my league and a more experienced NSO from Nottingham.
This was my first public outing as PBM, having done it three times previously at closed door scrims. I felt as prepared as one can be, and read as much information about penalty box managers being empowered as possible.
A week before I was PBM at a scrim hosted by Nottingham, which was really useful. There was a jammer switcharoo that I was unprepared for and I got it a little wrong. However, I learned from this mistake and felt much better suited to deal with it next time. Which is exactly what scrims are for!
But I’m glad to say the day went mostly without a hitch from my perspective. There were lots of jammer switches, each one handled properly I’m happy to say!
There was an expulsion which was interesting to watch, and a foul out which was really unfortunate. A skater was on her sixth penalty and mistook my “stand” cue for “done”, and left the penalty box. I issued a penalty box violation and she sat for her seventh time.
I did feel bad for the skater as it is just one of those things that can happen in the heat of the moment, but my cue was loud and clear as verified by the two PBTs.
A skater also stepped outside of the box during a time out to get water. However I never saw her fully exit the box, as I turned my head to see her moving backwards to take her seat. A referee saw the skater fully exit the box and issued a penalty accordingly. I was a little disappointed with myself for not seeing that happen, as technically it should be my job, but all officials are on the same team and we all have each others back. I’m just glad someone caught it and issued the appropriate penalty.
Aside from officiating, the entire day went really well. Being from the host league I saw all the effort and planning that went in to the day, months before the date, and it really paid off. The day unfolded really smoothly and on schedule (as much as it can be). No technical issues, no last minute panics, and everything went to plan.
Also, Mansfield won their game - by a huge margin! While I couldn’t show it at the time, I’m incredibly happy for them. Well deserved win. The league spirits are very high at the moment, and hopefully that will carry them through the next fixture.
Today I was back at the Harlots to referee a scrim between their B team and CCR. I was again an OPR but we did skate & wait much more this time around.
For my second outing as a referee in “public” I gave myself the same goals as last time - to keep in position, join in with call-off whistles where sensible, and to anticipate, watch, and follow action to completion.
A few times I fell out of position, but this was picked up by the other OPRs when needed. This was mostly due to the pack speed suddenly increasing and simple logistics of me not being fast enough. Positions were regained quickly and smoothly though, and hopefully not much action was missed by the OPRs as a team.
I called four penalties, one at the same time as a JR for cutting. The other for a low block, and two more for failure to reform. Both times on these I totally blanked on what the verbal cue was, as it’s not something I’ve actually called in practice before. Something to work on. Thankfully though, any issues arising from my mis-calls were sorted out without delaying the game.
My skating skills have certainly improved since last time, I felt more in control of my positioning and, for the most part, was able to maintain correct position. It would be nice to perform cross-overs in the anti-derby direction though, as I felt a little slow picking up corner 3 when in the rear OPR position doing skate & wait. Something to work on in free-skate practice.
Overall though, I’m very pleased with how it went.
Letting my kit air a little while I have a well needed sit down and coffee, then it’s league practice tonight. Starting with the new beginners intake (no contact) and ending with some scrim practice with the mixed ability skaters.
My little team of NSOs are doing incredibly well during the scrim practice, and I’m incredibly pleased and impressed with how they’re learning and coping. My ambition to have a small team of professional and knowledgable NSOs is starting to come true.
Love this photo of some of the Mansfield Roller Derby crew on a day trip for Great British Burritos up and in Halifax. After we went to a local park to try and burn off some of those delicious calories! These are some lovely people. Proud and pleased to be a part of it. #mrd #rollerderby #teammates (Photo by @t_becs_)
Today I refereed my very first full scrim! The Hellfire Harlots were kind enough to take me into their zebra pack for their scrim against Manchester.
As it was my first full scrim, I set myself a few achievable goals (based on the SMART principle). Primarily I wanted to keep my Rear OPR position on the pack, and I’m happy to say I managed to do this. My other goal was to echo the jam call-off whistles and match the pace of the other referees. I joined in probably 90% of the time and matched the whistles pretty well. The times I missed it, I was either focused on other things or felt I couldn’t draw breath in time to perform the full four whistle blasts. Sometimes not blowing the whistle is the right thing to do!
As a bonus, I saw a number of penalties. Some of which were called by other referees, and one I called myself. I wasn’t expecting to call any penalties - I was going to be happy enough with keeping pace and position on the pack - but I’m pleased that I had the confidence and commitment to call a penalty that I saw, and call it correctly and clearly.
Best of all - the Harlots have invited me back! This may become a regular thing, and if so, I’m extremely happy!
Saturday 16th April saw Nottingham host the inaugural Louisey Rider Cup. A tournament in the memory of one of their skaters and a fundraiser for charity.
Skaters and officials came from far and wide to take part what was an awesome day, and I was lucky enough to be selected as Penalty Tracker for one of the officiating teams.
The tournament went incredibly smoothly, which is testament to the amount of effort that went in behind the scenes. Some all-star officials were involved in this from beginning to end and it was inspirational to be a part of it.
It was hard work, but absolutely enjoyable and lots of things learnt and people met.
Thank you everyone involved - skaters, officials and spectators! And of course my wife for letting me have basically and entire day of derby officiating.
A few skaters at my home league have been wanting some clarification on No Pass/No Penalty. When explaining NP/NP in person there’s usually some detail left out.
To fill in the gaps in knowledge for both myself and for skaters new to the concept of NP/NP, I’ve taken some time to write this blog post explaining the basics.
NP/NP is most relevant to jammers, so I’ll be using blocker/jammer language in this post. This is a simplified interpretation of the rules and only describes common scenarios that are most relevant from a skater’s perspective.
To start, let’s remind ourselves how a jammer scores points. Quoting the rules, a jammer scores points when they “pass the opponents’ hips while in bounds and upright, legally, while wearing the Jammer helmet cover with the stars visible, without committing penalties.” [220.127.116.11]
Below are a few very simplistic examples of how a jammer could pass a blocker:
Both skaters are in bounds and upright, and the jammer does not incur a penalty. The jammer scores the point.
The blocker is out of play or down, and the jammer passes legally. The jammer scores the point.
Both skaters are in bounds and upright, and the jammer commits a penalty. The jammer does not score the point and reports to the penalty box.
The jammer, while out of bounds, passes a blocker who is out of bounds, down, or out of play. No Pass/No Penalty.
Note: There are other ways NP/NP can be issued, but this is the most common.
There are a number of situations where passing out of bounds can occur. The most likely are:
A jammer, while out of bounds, returns to the track in front of a downed blocker.
A jammer, while out of bounds, returns to the track in front of an out of bounds blocker.
A jammer, who was knocked out of bounds by a blocker who also went out of bounds, returns to the track in front of that blocker before the blocker returns to the track.
A blocker blocks the jammer out of bounds at the front of the engagement zone and is then called out of play. The jammer returns to the track in front of the out of play blocker.
A blocker blocks the jammer out of bounds and recycles them to the back of the pack and is called out of play. The jammer returns to the track in front of the out of play blocker.
In all these situations, the pass occurred where the involved skaters have given up or lost their superior position, for example by being out of bounds, or out of play.
If the blocker were in bounds and in play in those examples, you might expect to hear a cutting penalty called on the jammer. As such, it might be useful to think of NP/NP being issued when you cut a skater but it doesn’t warrant a penalty.
There are other situations where NP/NP can be signalled, for example if the jammer is not wearing the helmet cover, the stars are not visible, or the helmet cover has been passed over skaters.
If the jammer is on their initial pass and they do not legally pass every blocker before leaving the engagement zone (including blockers they’ve previously passed but find themselves behind again), they will be issued ‘not lead jammer’ status, even if they are first out of the engagement zone.
Jammers are able to score a point on blockers they previously got NP/NP on if they recycle behind that blocker and pass them legally, satisfying rule 18.104.22.168.
Jammers may also get signalled NP/NP on blockers they have already passed and scored a point on if they find themselves behind that skater, but fail to satisfy 22.214.171.124 when passed again.
Below are some screenshots from the URDUMB application that outlines a common NP/NP situation - a jammer passing a blocker while they’re both out of bounds.
Purple blocker is in front of yellow jammer and has not yet lost her point.
Purple blocker initiates a legal block which causes both skaters to leave the track.
Yellow jammer returns to the track before and in front of purple blocker. Since the pass occurred out of bounds legally, NP/NP is signalled.
Beginners training went well! As the new people go to grips with skates and doing some sticky skating I worked on counter clockwise transitions. I’m much more comfortable with them now, so that’s good!
In this mixed ability session after we started with 27/5. I managed to get 25 and a quarter, my best yet. Really pleased with this, as the league have 25 as a milestone in the minimum skills. Plus it’s only two away from the full 27, which I feel I might be able to get in a few weeks. The main sticking point is other people on track, but that’s always going to be an issue. Besides, having other people on track helps me to keep some pace.
The rest of the season was blocking basics. They’re taking it back to basics for a few weeks for the newly promoted skaters to the mixed ability sessions. So not a lot of refereeing for me to do, but I did watch for penalties in their 1-on-1 drills. Watching any kind of contact drill will always bring some benefit to my referee training.
So all in all, great weekend of derby fun! I’m exhausted.
Success! I was IWB for two games, and everything went 99.99% smoothly. That 0.01% thing was me mishearing a penalty and marking something erroneously on the whiteboard that wasn’t spotted until the end of the game. However, it had zero impact on anything whatsoever, so that’s okay.
It was great to work with some of the best officials in the region again, and I throughly enjoyed my day.
Came away with a few things to work on - better echoing penalties back to the PW and PT, and communicating to the HR about skaters on track during lineup who are approaching seven penalties.
Now that I’ve taken my grey t-shirt off, I can say that I’m really proud of the Mansfield ladies, and they should be proud of themselves too. Even though the scoreboard said they lost, they really won. They held good walls, had great communication, and worked their very best.
The more I do roller derby things, the more I want to do roller derby things. I’m really excited and looking forward to tomorrow’s practice - new beginners first, followed by some mixed ability training that I’ll likely be refereeing.
Yesterdays training session went well. It was the teams last training session before their first British Champs game, so they were running jammer vs blocker drills.
Rather than focus on looking for penalties I decided to try and apply some learnings from the bootcamp last week and watch for established position, challenges to that position (legal or otherwise), initiation, and relative position.
I followed a jammer through the pack as I watched how position of skaters changed, and it was actually quite an eye-opener.
There’s more to penalties than just “you can’t target illegal zones”, and yesterday helped a few things fall in to place in my head a little bit.
Tomorrow is the British Champs game day 2, and my home league’s first game of the 2016 season. I’m excited for them and wish them all the best. They’ve trained hard and I’m sure they’ll do fantastic.
I’m NSOing both games in the double-header, both of which are on the inside whiteboard. My first inside track position in an open-door event, which is rather exciting.
The Inhuman League in Sheffield hosted a referee bootcamp lead by Righteous Oxide. The day consisted of a few hours off-skates theory and discussion about initiation and what it means to be a good referee.
We did some on-skates drills and then it was time for a scrim. Two referee crews in five-jam rotations.
I was on the outside pack, rotating between front, middle and rear positions.
Considering this was my first scrim experience, I think it went rather well. Before this, I only refereed drills and scrim-like drills.
There was a lot to take in, and working on my position took a good percentage of my brain power. However I feel happy with the outcome of the day and my involvement in both the scrim and the discussions.
I have lots of notes to read through and digest but my first thoughts are about improving my confidence in calling penalties and to work on my skating skills to better my positioning.
After the bootcamp, it was straight to Mansfield for the new beginners intake. Lots of new faces, and I got to introduce myself as Refresh the Head Referee. That felt pretty good, I must say.
It made me realise just how far I’ve come since I was starting beginners myself just a couple of months ago.
The skaters did their drills for a while and then went in to some scrim-based drills. There were a few of us refereeing, and I was doing JR. I felt that once we got going the referees did a really good job. Proper positioning, communication, and lovely clear penalties/pack/whistling.
Since becoming head referee at Mansfield, this is the first time I actually felt like I belonged in that role.
Here I am in my referee shirt! I collected it from the tailor this morning, since it was rather oversized and didn’t look very good or feel comfortable. I’m very glad I had it tailored as it fits much better and I’ll feel more confident wearing it.
I’m off to referee bootcamp on Sunday so it’s perfect timing! I’m very excited to learn things and to hopefully referee my first actual scrim. As much as I am excited, I’m equally nervous. But, it’s a learning experience, and I’m sure I’ll be looked after by the coaches and players.
No doubt I’ll be reporting back here with how it all went.
It’s been a little while since I updated about my general fitness and health, so I aim to resolve that now. This blog isn’t just about learning to become a roller derby referee, but also about my general health and fitness as well.
Keep reading to see a break-down of my progress…
I’ve been training pretty consistently over the past month, regularly smashing the 30 active minutes per day that is recommended.
As a result, my resting heart rate has dropped to 44 bpm. According to my research, this sets me well within “athlete” levels. More importantly, I’ve noticed my recovery from peak HR zones to normal levels to be much faster.
I’ve been eating better too, with healthier food and better portion control. As a result of this, along with the exercise, I’ve lost 2kg this month. My current weight is 77kg. At my heaviest I was 83kg in November.
My body fat has dropped too, to 15.8% - the lowest it’s ever been. My highest recorded BF% was 27.7 back in November.
I’ve reduced the amount of gym-based cardio I’ve done this month, mainly to focus on getting a little more sleep due to other pressures and demands. However, I am skating more and pushing myself more when I’m able.
I am still going to the gym three days a week to do Stronglifts, and I’m performing well.
I’ve been squatting 100kg for almost three months total now, and I can feel it. I’ve decided to limit the weight to 100kg, as I feel adding more isn’t worth the trade off with the risk of back pain. I have recovered from two prolapsed discs about three years ago, and I don’t believe risking injury is worth adding more weight.
However, repeating the same weight has been with benefits. My form has improved and my recovery between sets has reduced. I’m able to get lower in to the squat and break parallel every rep.
Bench press has seen some wobbles over the last three months, but after a plateau and de-load, I’m approaching a 50kg bench. This is my target weight, and I’ll be really pleased to hit that.
Overhead press is always a challenge, especially with the ever-present fear of spinal injury, but I’m still making headway. I’m currently on a de-load to help get past a plateau but I’m aiming for that 40kg OHP target.
Barbell row is very steadily rising, but I’m thinking I might de-load slightly to improve form. I just broke the 80kg barrier which was my target, so I’m really pleased about that.
Deadlifts - possibly my favourite lift - are at a steady 100kg. For the same reason as squats, I don’t feel adding more weight is worth the potential for injury. However, when I’m feeling particularly “in the zone” I will do single reps with increasing weight. My current 1 rep max is at 130kg, which I pulled this morning.
My diet has been going well too. I’ve been eating healthy and correctly portioned food almost all the time. I usually have a simple breakfast, salad and chicken for lunch, and a balanced meal in the evenings. I supplement with protein shakes on weight training days, and snack on protein-rich foods. I’m also keeping an eye on the amount of water I drink and make sure I keep hydrated at all times.
With all this, I feel I’ve made really good progress. My primary goal is to be strong, fit and healthy. I’m easily the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been in my life, which is fantastic.
Consider just a few years ago I could barely walk due to back pain. I had a bit of a belly, and had very limited strength, stamina, and a long recovery time after any kind of exercise. I was the dreaded “skinny-fat”. Now I think I look pretty lean and getting some muscle definition, and feel great too!
So what’s next for my fitness goals? Back on cardio in April, keep on lifting heavy things, and keep moving!
Yesterday’s advanced skater training went really well, from my referee perspective. While the skaters were doing warm up drills I was working on stepping transitions both clockwise and anticlockwise. I didn’t manage it, but I did feel that I’ve made some progression. Transitioning anticlockwise is really difficult for me at the moment, so I know it’s an area I need to focus on.
As the skaters moved on to more jam-like drills, I took on refereeing a bit more. The coach got the skaters to write their roster numbers on their arms (for those that didn’t have them printed on tshirts). I informed them that I’ll be calling penalties - some will be real and some will be made up. This is to improve my ref voice and confidence at calling penalties, and to benefit the skaters so get them used to hearing penalties being called.
I called several real penalties, and a whole bunch of fake ones (such as back blocks to skaters who were stationary, etc).
It really helped a lot! I started to get over my fear of calling penalties.
I also kept a close eye on pack definition too, and was calling pack/no pack when I saw it, and out of play warnings when needed.
All in all, a really positive session! All because I’m putting in to practise some of the advice from Wednesday.
To top it all off, I also bought a ticket to a referee bootcamp in Sheffield later this month.
Yesterday I went to Leicester for a referee coaching session hosted by Orla Skew.
There was a small squad of trainee referees, and together we managed to ref some drills that the RDL team were running.
I was mostly acting as jammer ref, which I actually really enjoyed. It felt liberating being restricted to watching just one skater (as per instruction for this training). I managed to call and spot a few penalties, which is good - but I feel like I missed quite a few. But I’m cutting myself some slack, I’m learning.
Most of my effort was on positioning myself and keeping up with the jammer. That in itself is a challenge, and with some good pointers and coaching, I feel I’ve improved on this a lot.
I did some pack definition work too, and that was really helpful. Turns out my ten feet estimations are pretty accurate and they got better over time and coaching.
There’s lots of things I want to work on, as you’d expect. But for general skating skills, I want to figure out stepping transitions both ways. An exercise we did during the session really highlighted the fact that this is an essential skill that I need to work on.
It’s the Mansfield training session tonight, and I’m very eager to try out some new things!
Mansfield roller derby peeps at free skate Monday! Today our coach gave us some great tips and info on mastering crossovers. Awesome session, with lots of new skills learnt. #mansfieldrollerderby #rollerderby #freeskateselfie #team #crossover #fit #getlower
I had a really good Free Skate session last night, I really needed it! Thanks to a little coaching and encouragement, I can now do a few new things (after falling a lot).
My clockwise transitions from forward to back are pretty decent. I can get it right a good 90% of the time without even thinking now. Going clockwise back to forward is more tricky and I’ve been having to step. But now I can pivot on my heels and not lose all of my momentum. I managed it a few times, but fell quite a bit.
But the main thing is that I understand what my body needs to do. I just have to get it to do it.
I also had a go at jumping transitions, which I seemed to get half of the time. Perhaps not a very useful referee skill, but it’s certainly a fun one! Plus, it’s good footwork and confidence on skates in general and that’s always good.
The free skate sessions really help me try things out and work on my general skating ability without any worry of drills or rules. They’re also good fun and a nice social mixer too.
Beginners and intermediate training tonight. We did more walls and knocking out of bounds in beginners training. I’m not really a big fan of contact stuff, but I do still enjoy it. It’s good for me to learn the basics, I think.
I refereed the intermediate session, and tried to watch for penalties. However, I don’t feel I did very well tonight. Mainly, I think, because I was trying to look for too many things - two jammers, the pack definition, and blocker-on-blocker penalties. It’s just way too much.
I really need to limit myself to one or two penalty types, and keep an eye on a maximum of two skaters, I think.
I have to get it out of my head that it’s my responsibility to watch everyone - it’s just not possible and I’ll miss way more than I’ll see.
Lessons learnt. That’s the main thing. I need to keep a positive view on it, and learn for next time.
It’s tough being basically the only dedicated referee in the league and trying to self-teach. There’s so many things to watch, do, and learn.
Nottingham Roller Girls hosted the first game day of the British Champs Their 4 West yesterday, and I was there to NSO.
Game 1: Dolly Rockit Rollers vs Coventry City Derby Dolls Position: Score keeper Final score: DRR 592 - 83 CCDD
I was paired with Stop! Hannah Time! as my jammer referee, the first time we worked together. I feel that SK is my most experienced roll, as I’ve done this at four previous championship bouts and various scrims. However, this wasn’t without it’s challenges - mainly due to the fast pace scoring and star passes by Dolly Rockit. It was a very one-sided bout, with Dolly Rockit comfortably winning.
There was one moment of mild confusion when my maths didn’t add up as they should, but I’m pretty sure it was down to trying to track a star pass that happened moments before the jam was called off so I was struggling to catch the new jammer number. I managed to sort it out quickly though, and no one was any the wiser (well, until now…)
Hannah Time was a fantastic JR, clear communication and verification on every scoring pass. I’m pretty sure we miscommunicated only once, and that was because I thought I saw a four but it was a three. But, no harm done, as I don’t write anything down until I get the confirmation nod from the JR (unless she’s too busy to verify, of course).
Great communication with the SO too, echoing back points as I called them out to her. Some SOs don’t do that, so it was good to hear verification from her.
Game 2: Nottingham Roller Girls vs Evolution Rollergirls Position: Penalty box timer Final score: NRG 285 - 124 ERD
I’ve done PBT a fair few times, but never at an open door game, and never with just one stopwatch and paperwork! I read up on the paperwork before the day so I was familiar with what to do. However, I wasn’t prepared for how frantic it can get! The paperwork alone sounds easy, but when adding in the stopwatch, skaters coming in and out, and the pressure of making sure to not keep skaters longer than their penalty time - it’s actually pretty stressful.
My main focus was to write the skater number and position on the paperwork as they entered, and ensure they sat for the correct length of time. I managed to do that 100% of the time, so I’m pleased about that. I am confident I completed the rest of the paperwork correctly too, which helped with some quick maths dealing with multiple blockers in the box!
It was really difficult, and to be honest it wasn’t my favourite thing to do! The paperwork made it a lot more difficult, but I am glad I did it, and without major errors.
It’s been a little while since I posted an update on my general fitness, so I thought now is a good a time as any.
I’ve been dedicated with the gym lately, and for the last two weeks I’ve been every morning. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday I’m continuing with StrongLifts.
My current work sets: - Squat: 100kg - Bench: 45kg - OH Press: 35kg - Row: 75kg - Deadlift: 100kg - Chinups: -15kg - Dips: -15kg
After the weight training, and every Tuesday and Thursday, I do between 20 to 30 minutes on the treadmill. I vary the time based on how long I have until I need to leave to get ready, and how tired my legs are after lifting.
My jog pace is anywhere between 9kmph and 10kmph depending on how I feel. Distance varies between 1.5km to 3.5km.
I’ve also been going for lunchtime walks every day, weather permitting, for about 2km to 2.5km.
Skating has been pretty regular recently with three sessions a week, one of which is a lengthy three hours!
All this extra movement has guaranteed I get my 10,000 steps before the end of the work day.
My rest days are on the weekend, where I’ve been getting about 5,000 steps all day.
As a result of all this, I’ve dropped 1.5kg on the scales already this year and for the first time got below 16% body fat. Are summer abs on the cards? Who knows!
Two really good blog posts have appeared in my reader that I want to share.
First: Sleaze talks about increasing cohesion at UKRoc. [link] A really good article about how to improve the life of referees in leagues, and make them feel part of the team. I can happily say my league are incredible and encourage me on my journey. They even made me league HR even though I’m still very much at the start of my journey. That alone was a massive confidence boost.
Second: Grumpy Cates talk about his beginnings as a newbie referee and his journey to officiating at T2 level. [link] This looks to be an interesting series, and comes at the perfect time for me on my journey.
A few things have happened since my post last week. Nothing too major, but a few little victories:
1. I went to Thursday training and did some referee practice. I didn’t call any penalties, since I’m still struggling with the confidence to do that. However, I’m getting better at pack definition. Several times, both the coach and myself called ‘no pack’ and ‘out of play’ at the same time, which I think is pretty good going!
2. Sunday sessions was epic. We did more bracing walls and even had a little go as a jammer trying to get through braced walls. It was tough, but a few people complimented me on my stability and strength. For the mixed ability session after I did more refereeing while the more proficient skaters did their walls and some jam starts. I was the only referee, so it got pretty crazy at times. Again, I was mostly watching pack definition. Saw a few penalties, but by the time my brain figured out what to say it felt a bit too late to actually call. But I did it in my head, so that’s something!
3. Monday free skate was good fun! We took our speakers and the laptop so it was much louder this time. I think everyone who went had a good time. I didn’t really work on any specific skill, I just wanted to be on skates and do some transitions and different kinds of stops, and just roll around the hall. Good times!
4. I’m on the British Champs T4 NSO crew for the first games! Scorekeeper, and then penalty box timer. I’m super happy, and very excited to be officiating in a very real capacity. Especially considering there were so many volunteers to NSO for the games!
5. The DHSNO has offered for me to shadow her on some bouts to train me up as a HNSO. Of course I accepted gratefully! Absorb all the knowledge!
6. I’ve been doing some networking (mostly adding referees on Facebook, etc) but it’s starting to grow my contact list a bit, and get my name out there. This can only be a good thing.
Monday night freeskate! The Mansfield bunch are a lovely lot, and I’m blessed to be able to skate with them. We took some speakers this time so we could listen to some tunes! I think it went down well, everyone enjoyed the background music while they did their thing.
I attempted some T-Stops and, while I didn’t master it, I can now slow myself down some of the time without flailing and falling over. So, I’m taking that as progression.
Excited for Thursday’s session now! Going to get some more refereeing action, and I’m determined to have the confidence to blow my whistle at skaters this time.
So we started doing more contact stuff in the beginners training on Sunday. Mostly it was pairs in walls, and then four walls, with increasingly aggressive jammers. They started with just positional jammers/blockers, moving to testing some walls, and then actually pushing to test our knowledge of pack definition.
It was fun, but to be totally honest, I think everyone else had more fun than I did. I’m not opposed to contact, but I would much rather be officiating the game than be playing it. I think this is a big step in my roller derby journey, as it absolutely cements my resolve to become a referee rather than a player.
Everything about refereeing and officiating in general appeals to me. Having a solid understanding of the rules and how they apply is much more interesting to me than tactics and ability to maintain strong walls. Every brain is different, and mine is very much a stripy brain!
I’ll continue on with the beginners course as it is now and see it through to completion. I feel that even though I’ll never actually play roller derby, I want to at least know I could. Once beginners is over and people are promoted to mixed ability training, I’ll make the firm switch to referee-only. And the thought of that really, really excites me.
Talking of, I didn’t stay the full time on Sunday. I left after Beginners, and didn’t stay for Mixed Ability. I’m not really sure why, I just didn’t feel it. But I regret it now, and I wish I did stay to do some referee training. I think I just feel a little awkward sometimes, and it’s only made worse by being the only regular and committed referee in the league. I need to get over this.
It’s Free Skate tonight, which promises to be fun. I’m going to get someone to help me with T-Stops. We’re bringing some speakers too so we can play a bit of music while we skate about.
I’m going to see if I can come along to Thursday skate too, for the advanced training sessions, and referee. Hopefully they’ll be doing drills that I can observe. Or at the very least, I’ll tootle around the edge and blow my whistle.
Yesterday I went along to team training. Thursdays is the advanced skater coaching, and I’m permitted to go along and participate as a referee where applicable.
Usually this entails following a “jammer” or “offensive blocker” around from the inside track and try to spot penalties where I can. I didn’t call anything, but I’m pretty sure I saw a small number of things which I could have called.
I’m not really sure why I didn’t call them - I had been given permission to do so, and the skaters were aware of that fact. Maybe next time.
It was, as ever, very useful to actually be on skates and work on transitions and turning while keeping my gaze fixed on a skater or on the pack. That’s something I’m getting a little better at, and I’m thinking much less about my feet now.
Towards the end of the session they did some almost-jam-start drills, so I blew a few whistles to signal the start of the ‘jam’, blew for lead jammer, and again to call off the ‘jam’.
I was remembering what I was told on Wednesday - keep the pace of the whistles steady and clean, and tap my hips when whistling off the jam.
Following on from something I saw, I spent my lunch break today reading about high blocks and blocking with the head. I know a little bit more than I did yesterday now.
Slowly, slowly, I’m getting some confidence and knowledge. That said, I know there’s still a long journey ahead of me.
So tonight I was in Leicester at the RDL training session. Skew was leading a referee coaching session for a few new referees-in-training. In total four trainee referees were there.
It was my first session doing anything properly referee-like, other than trying to figure things out on my own during the home league training.
The session was incredibly useful and I took in a lot of knowledge. The primary focus was on communication and vocalisation, something I absolutely need to work on. We also did some whistle drills while the RDL girls did their jam start drills. It is a very different experience blowing a whistle at full volume in a sports hall than it is at home or in the car.
We worked on calling penalties and performing the associated hand signals too. I got myself confused a few times, but the furthest anything got was on the tip of my tongue.
We also refereed their ‘endless jammer’ drill, with me mostly as OPR (because I was the only trainee on skates, so I could (theoretically) keep up). I didn’t call any penalties, but that’s because I didn’t see any.
I have some ideas for drills to do when at the home league training sessions:
Call penalties at random on skaters who are doing a drill (with permission of the session coach!)
Call penalties across the sports hall to another person, and ensure they can hear me
Transition while looking at a fixed point
Work on different types of stopping (next on the list - T stop)
Blow my whistle more
On the hour-long drive home I did my thing where I call penalties on cars.
I’m very excited to practice my new learnings, and actually start this journey of becoming a roller derby referee. I feel like I’ve actually made my first real step towards that goal.
Yesterday’s skating practice was hard work - not because of what we were learning, but because the floor had been waxed! The grip was insane, and I couldn’t plough stop at all. At the moment, that’s my primary method of stopping, since I’ve not mastered the derby or ’T’ stops yet. Transitioning was also tricky because my wheels stuck firm instead of having some slight slide. I ended up falling a few times, and I felt pretty out of control. I didn’t like it.
But still, went a lap up on my 27/5 - I’m now sitting at 23 laps in five minutes, which I’m pleased with. Especially considering I nearly fell about four times because cross-overs are a beast with maximum wheel grip.
I’m just not used to it really. That floor is the only floor I’ve really skated on so to have it change so radically was a bit of a shock.
Anyway, we did more pack definition stuff, which is incredibly helpful as a blossoming zebra. To see skaters at 10 and 20 feet from the pack is always a nice thing. I know how important it is to get that distance set in my mind and calculable in a glance.
Last week I was struck down my the seasonal cold that always goes around so I missed a lot of gym time. I’m on top form now though, and did a great session this morning before work. Followed by a fast paced walk around the business parks at lunchtime for the standard 2 mile circuit.
I’m looking forward to Free Skate tonight, on that damn sticky floor. I’ll take the opportunity to work on some derby stops.
Tomorrow is the league’s Members Meeting, which I’ll be going along to. It’ll be my first one, so I’m not totally sure what to expect.
On Wednesday, I’m going to my first ever referee-specific training in Leicester, led by Skew. I’m really looking forward to that, although it will be a bit of a rush to get there after work. Need to remember to pack more snacks to keep me going!
Once again, it’s been a little while since I updated this blog. Apologies to anyone who’s actually reading and interested in my thoughts and journey in to roller derby. I’ll try and make amends now by updating where I’m at. It’ll also help me gather my thoughts and put down in words what’s going on in my head.
Firstly, British Championships 2016 season is almost upon us. I’m really looking forward to being an NSO as many bouts as possible this season. In 2015 I was an NSO in two bouts (both double-headers) which I really enjoyed. I’m very keen to continue this trend and get on as many crews as possible this year. I’ll be volunteering for as many scrims and bouts within reasonable distance as possible.
Secondly, as mentioned in my previous post, I’m now a member of Mansfield Roller Derby. I’ve passed the beginners intake and have started Scrim 101. I’ve also been given permission to attend other training sessions and work on referee skills where appropriate. This is huge for me, and I’m incredibly excited to put in to practice some of what I’m reading about.
Thirdly, the board at MRD have agreed unanimously that I should fill the position of ‘Head Referee’. I can’t help feel partly the reason is because there isn’t really a dedicated referee in the league, but I’m sure my dedication and passion for all things rules has made an impact.
I’m going to take my new role at MRD very seriously and really apply myself to read more and watch more, and push myself as much as I can both in referee specifics and in general skating ability. I’m at a level of skating ability where I think I’m ready for some referee bootcamps, so I’m on the lookout for any in the region.
The more I progress and learn about roller derby, the more excited I get about learning and progressing more.
I’ve also settled on a derby name and number.
It’s a web developer thing. Now I need to get an NSO t-shirt printed.
Free skate was fun! We worked on transitions and plough stops and all the things! We also played a little basketball on skates too, which is a great way to do things but not think of it. Overall, great times!
Christmas break hasn’t been good for my fitness levels, but that’s okay. I’m looking forward to really stepping up another level in 2016! Watch out! #fitbit #lifesum #fitness #health #2016 #trackfit #chargehr
Web Developer at Remarkable.net - Full Service Ecommerce Agency
Internet | Nottingham, United Kingdom, GB
*** RECRUITERS PLEASE READ *** I am not looking for work at this time. Please do not contact me regarding any opportunities you may have. Thank you for considering me. *** *** ***
I'm a website designer and developer with over ten years commercial experience and avid enthusiast ever since I can remember.
My main skills are website development, coding with leading-edge HTML5 and CSS3, powered by jQuery using unobtrusive ajax and progressive enhancement methodologies.
User Experience is another key skill I possess, helping me design or co-design amazing web apps or websites that do their intended function in the best possible way for human interaction, meeting user expectations.
I have experience coding the back-end and APIs in the following platforms and languages: - PHP - MySQL - ASP.net / C#
I've coded in .net MVC environment and I'm comfortable working with controllers and models that interact with a service layer maintained by back-end developers.
I enjoy working in an agile development environment, and have worked in a Scrum methodology within a feature team.
Web Developer / Remarkable.net - Full Service Ecommerce Agency
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We code HTML5 and CSS3, utilising the very best of the technology to produce clean and readable code that is responsive on all devices.
As part of a feature team, we dedicate two weeks to a 'sprint', which is a period of time where we deliver a potentially shippable product. All members of the team work together to achieve this goal - business analysts, back-end developers, testers, and web developers. To assist with this, we sometimes draw on resources from other teams when required to speed development, using methods such as pair programming and code reviews.
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