This is actually not a term we really use in Australia. Nor is it actually a concept in Australian pro sport. I wonder what the cultural difference is?
Here’s an interesting link on Wikipedia about ”running up the score”, and I will quote below an excerpt from it talking specifically about Aussie Rules football:
Running up the score is a common practice in Australian rules football. The only tiebreaker used in most leagues is the percentage of points for versus points against; as such, margins frequently become large. This occurs in all levels of play, particularly in metropolitan and country leagues, where weaker teams can often be beaten by as much as 200 points. Significantly, the sport lacks any obvious means to kill off a match quickly and painlessly, and time-wasting is both unpopular with fans and discouraged by the laws of the game. Junk time is also a key contributing factor. In finals games, where percentage is no longer relevant, teams do occasionally attract criticism for running up the score. The most extreme recorded example of running up the score was theWilliamstown Seagulls’ score of 110.27 (687) against Geelong West Roosters in a 1983 VFA Under-19s game.
Now what the heck does this have to do with roller derby, you ask?
Well, it seems to be a bit of a hot topic, even in Australian roller derby.
So let’s look at what Wikipedia says about why teams run up the score and try to look at it in a derby context:
(***Disclaimer: I am talking about Travel Team games specifically here.)
1. To improve the first team players’ game stamina, so they are better prepared for later games, e.g. high school teams that are dominant through regular season, but will face much stronger teams when playing for state championship.
Derby Context: If you want your ”starting” lineups to perform when faced with difficult opponents, they need to have played a full game at the intensity required down the track. If you take the foot off the pedal when facing weaker opposition, you’ll never know what it’s like to really have to bust it out.
2. To demonstrate domination of one’s opponents, and intimidate them and future opponents.
Derby Context: If you can manage to do this prior to the game, it’s already half won. From a technical standpoint as well, teams like London absolutely needed to beat Auld Reekie by the amount they did so they could demonstrate they still deserve a place at Regionals.
3. To demonstrate respect for the opposing team by not easing up.
Derby Context: I feel like this is the most important for our growing community. I hear it said around the traps that teams *should* ease up, but then in the same breath folks talk about newer teams wanting to ”learn” when they play the top teams. So I ask you—-what is a better lesson? Playing a team at it’s best, or playing a team you know has gone easy on you? I know which one I would learn best from!
4. To gain an advantage where play statistics (such as points scored or point differential) are kept and used for professional advancement or as part of a tiebreaking system.
To improve rankings and thus a better placement in a championship picture
Derby Context: As could be seen at TGSS where 2 teams would advance on points differential. Also with no fully scheduled ”season” in WFTDA play where all teams play eachother a certain amount of times, we rely on triangulation of scores, so you really always want to win by the biggest margin possible.
5. To allow the ”first” team to work on unproven/untested plays or allow untested players first team repetitions.
Derby Context: This is key for me. Continuing to run up the score is not about ”humiliation” or trying to embarrass the other team. I’ve never been part of team goal setting for a game where this has been a goal. It has ALWAYS been about doing what we need to do to become a better team. When we played at Dust Devil, we spoke about IF we were ever ahead by a significant margin, if we would then try using our non-primary jammers or rest our top players. We decided we wouldn’t, that we would use the game to perfect our team work so that we felt like an even more solid unit going into the next game—-we decided we should play every game like we would a ”final” against a tough opponent so we could get the rhythm right. I have heard it mentioned that if we had have rested players during the Assassination City game once we were far enough ahead, that we could have possibly beaten Angel City.
I disagree completely. I think it was only due to the growing momentum and having the chance to get it ”right” in the game against Assassination, that we were able to make that comeback against Angel. If our ”starting” lineups hadn’t have had that time together, we would have felt like deer in headlights.
For me, what it boils down to is your team goal setting. What does your team want to get out of the game? Is it an opponent you know you’re definitely going to beat? Maybe you want to give some of your up and coming skaters some track time so you can develop them? Maybe you have a really tough opponent not long after this coming game and you need to iron out some kinks with your ”starting” lineups?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your team’s plan to get a good lead and then ease up (rest players, try different rotations, play your rookies, etc), the important things is that it’s about what YOU need as a team to develop in the way you want to.
I also think that just because you’re ”winning” a game doesn’t mean you’re playing the way you want to. We knew what we wanted to see from our team at TGSS to make us feel confident if we made it to the final. Sure we won against Auckland, but there were quite a few errors we made that we knew we needed to fix if we wanted to take home the Golden Thong. Playing Newcastle, we started to get into the groove, but they definitely tested us in a few areas (THANKS LADIES!), which again we deconstructed and set goals to improve on when we played CRDL. We are extremely critical of ourselves as a team, and therefore it’s not about ”winning” but about ”playing the perfect game”—-for ourselves. Because we want to continually push our own boundaries. My point being, your team’s goals should be about what YOU want to get out of a game.
Is that unfair on your opponent? Unsportsperson-like? I dunno. I would feel more unfair or unsportsy if I dumbed down our team’s game so as not to ”offend” anyone. Just don’t be an arsehole about it :)
P.S: yeah yeah I know there’s another angle here I am not touching on, and that is whether a blow-out is good for fans to watch, but I’m not going near THAT discussion with a 20 foot pole!!!
P.P.S: Auckland just reminded me of something—-I have been on both sides of the fence too. We got beat by Rat City and TXRG’s Hotrod Honeys both by about 140 points—-and it was AMAZING!
Literally. Yes. Very important.
But today we’re talking figuritavely!
With so much of our training, it seems to follow this paradox.
One example is that we used to solely play staggered, dynamic walls. Then once the scrum starts started happening, suddenly you needed to get good at straight walls again. In preparation for playing Rat City, we studied their super solid back 4 wall, and knew we had to emulate it in order to know how to play against it. What we discovered after playing Rat was that often our staggered walls weren’t really ”walls”, they were two people who just happened to be near eachother. so we needed to work on tight, structured, straight walls to catch our target first. Then once we worked that out, we then returned to adding some anchoring/”truck and trailoring”/caboosing/whatever your league calls it WHEN APPROPRIATE. We now call it: ”DOING SOMETHING”.
We had to take a step back to take 2 steps forward. Learn the psychology and fundamentals of a wall (the rules) before we could then know how to move beyond that (break them).
Same goes with risky jamming. We had to know how to be conservative and SMART before we could then amp up the intensity and bust out the crazy moves. Because then suddenly the crazy moves weren’t crazy anymore, they were controlled, skilfull, athletic and successful moves.
I guess it’s about being able to deconstruct, so you can then re-construct, and add more layers of awesome to your game, by understanding more about what you’re doing out there.
(or maybe I just really like paradoxes…which I do!)
How do you prepare for a tournament when you literally just finished playing one in a whole other country? That’s what I was asking myself after Dust Devil. We had 7 weeks from arriving back to flying out again to Adelaide.
I was mentally exhausted. I had put everything into the Dust Devil preparation thinking it would be my last hurrah before returning to London. I had thought in my head during the DD preparations, that if I was still in the country, I would probably need to pass up the captaincy for TGSS because I couldn’t see myself having the ability to muster up that same level of ‘presentness’ required to do it all over again.
However….like any addiction, after seeing what this amazing group of women could do at DD, I wanted more!!!!!!!! When we sat down as a group to discuss our goals for TGSS, we all wanted to experience the same things we did at DD—-of momentum, of perfect synchronicity, of times when you could literally feel a quantum leap of team building and team performance occurring.
In saying that, it’s not like only the captains felt it…everyone on the team felt it too. But we had hit a formula which worked for us, and it made sense to continue. Plus I honestly just love working with these ladies, and getting them to be the best they can be from a leadership position really is something pretty amazing. They inspire me to to be a better leader every day.
It was hard though! A lot of us were tired. Or super busy with uni or work. Or changing life situations. Or sick. Or nursing injuries. But I believe a truly GREAT team is one that knows how to perform when the planets are not aligned—-in fact, almost thrive on it! One of our values is Resilience so I guess we subconsciously used it!
We knew what it was like to play at altitude, jetlagged after a 16 hour flight, outside in the desert. We knew what it was like to travel for 8 hours on a bus and then play a game at 9am the next day with only a Denny’s for sustenance. And we knew what it felt like to do it again, and again. And again. And be successful despite how tough it was.
So I trusted in that, and also what I love about my team is that because I know every single skater is committed to our values and each other, when one of us is having a moment of mental or physical absence, we are totally understanding and each of us picks up the slack, no questions asked.
So how *did* I prepare for another tournament? With my good old friend Mental Tougness and the support of my team
This is the first in a series of ”Letters to Kami/Kitty”, where we play pen-friends about eachother’s blogs. I miss our runs together —-our real runs, not just our pretend runs ;)
I am responding to your blog entry on Confidence (http://www.kamikazekitten.co.uk/KamikazeKitten/Blog/Entries/2012/5/15_The_C_word.html)
1. Read my blog entry on the Habits of Highly Successful Sportspeople —namely the Confidence and Positive Perfectionist bits :)
2. I think you’re right, you’re confusing ”confidence” with ”satisfaction of performance”. You’re thinking that if you give yourself a pat on the back, that it’s a slippery slope to Self Congratulation Town where you sit with your feet up with a shandy in one hand and a ribbon for participation in the other. Also, confidence is NOT superiority. You can have self worth or belief without feeling like it makes you a better person than anyone else.
I think a great derby player (AKA: Sportsperson) is never going to be completely satisfied by their performance. There is always going to be a hunger for refinement or new skills/techniques to devour.
Being confident means having belief in your preparation, in your past proven performance (I don’t mean ”winning” here, I mean actual good things you have done in a game. Let’s call it: knowing you don’t totally suck), knowing the things you KNOW you do well. It doesn’t always mean you need to be ”confident you’ll win” (These are two different concepts)—-more believing that you have the tools to do so if used correctly on any given day.
I have NEVER played a game where I have thought we’ll win without a doubt—-even games where we have ended up winning by a lot. But maybe that’s because we still just don’t play enough All Star games to make that assumption. It’s important to approach every game with purpose and as a challenge. You want to have those nerves before a game that you know is going to be competitive. I’d be worried if you didn’t!
I used to be like you, if my team (and me personally) were not performing at training like the lovechild of Gotham and Oly, I would feel frustrated. I guess as skaters who are part of ”the best teams” in our respective countries, it’s those top level U.S teams we look up to, thinking if we are not like them, then we suck. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we strive that high. It’s how we mentally cope with the pressure we put on ourselves. I have a pretty critical thinking process, which is great for deconstructing areas we need to improve on but often would mean I struggled to see how far we had become.
My team mate, Calamity Maim, likes to make the ”Stair Analogy” when talking about progression. That you often don’t recognize that you’re moving up the Stairs of Success, because half of a ”stair” is flat. So you may feel like you’re not going anywhere, when you are. So like you said, that’s why it’s so important to be setting those goals. You need to see evidence of that progress. Real, tangible focuses so you can recognize ”success”.
As a team, we make sure we know what ”success” looks like at EVERY training session. We have a Goal Spreadsheet that we all fill out that the rest of the team can see. So we’re all aware of our own personal goals, what we need to do to achieve them, and what our team mates want to work on. We can remind eachother, or remember to congratulate someone when we know they made a step to reaching their goal. And then we have our team focuses for every session, and we really try to recognize when we get it right, whilst always building and improving. Not only has our team responded incredibly well to this approach, but I feel it has helped my Captaining…I can now see exactly when I should be praising the team, because *I* know what success looks like, instead of always just looking for the next rung of success.
Being a positive perfectionist is a good thing! The day you are satisfied with your skill set is the day you commit derby suicide. I saw a great post on a fitness forum yesterday where someone asked: ”What is a good weight for me to be deadlifting?”. Someone answered back with: ”5lbs more than you lifted last week, and 5lbs less than you’ll lift next week”. I love that!
So as I wind this up, I am glad you have separated ”confidence” from ”complacency” as concepts. It’s ok to be confident in what you CAN do, while always looking to add more to that list.
P.S: Just in case you’re thinking that I am a super-big-head-confidence-oozer…you’re wrong! It’s a learning process for me too. Luckily I have an amazing team who support eachother, and we’re learning together to find the Goldilocks solution in most aspects of our training and mental preparation. (not too hot, not too cold, but juuuuuuuust right!).