Question: Why do the blockers skate the other way after they knock a jammer out of bounds? Then, why do they make that line behind everyone else?
This play is an effective blocking technique so the jammer has to skate extra distance. The blockers skate the other way because they want to get behind the pack. The line that the blockers form—in derby lingo—is called a bridge. The bridge is needed so there will always be a pack.
When this play happens, it’s amazing as a blocker, but so frustrating as a jammer.
Here’s the details as to why it’s either fantastic or sigh-inducing, depending on the perspective of the skater.
First, when a jammer is knocked out of bounds, she has to re-enter the track behind the girl who knocked her out. So, when the blockers hit the jammer out, the jammer has to stay out of bounds until she is behind the girl who hit her out. Once she is, she can go back on the track.
It’s tricky because the jammer might not be aware of who knocked her out of bounds. If the jammer enters the track in front of the girl who knocked her out, that jammer receives a cutting the track penalty.
The other important detail about this technique is that, in derby, there always needs to be a pack.
To maintain a pack with this technique, the blockers need to be a maximum of 10 feet (3.04m) away from the rest of pack. This is why the bridge happens. One girl has to be positioned 10 feet away from the pack, or another girl in the bridge. Sometimes this bridge is a one-blocker show, sometimes it’s all four blockers.
Here’s an ideal situation with perfect execution by Team A: Team A knocks Team B’s jammer out of bounds. Then, Team A’s blockers skate behind the pack and form a bridge with all four blockers. Team B’s jammer is forced skate an additional 40 feet before she can enter the track again.
Watch for this technique on the track. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.