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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Auntie Social says: Don't use belts for whipping

Recently I attended a game where one team had what I considered an unfair and illegal advantage: belts. Several of the team’s blockers were wearing very loose belts, and it was no coincidence. In my opinion these belts were not used to hold up clothes or for fashion- but specifically for strategic purposes. The point is not only an additional thing for their jammer to grab onto, the slack allows the belt to essentially serve as a slingshot and propel the jammer around the blocker, without virtually any effort on the part of the blocker.

When I mentioned this a couple weeks ago Aim DeKill of SVRG said in defense of belts, “I wore a belt for two years AND can give great whips as well. My wearing of a belt started because I kept getting my skirt pulled down by hip whips during drills as a newbie. It stuck around and I liked it.” Hey I’m not knocking belts, for functional reasons, (or even fashion!). I’m knocking leagues that instruct their teams to wear belts as a tool instead of teaching how to give whips. And what this team was doing was not what Aim describes. It was undeniable, for one- because the team was clearly practicing using them to give assists before the game started. It was obviously a regular part of their routine.

Why don't some teams understand that wearing belts to assist your jammers with whips is cheating? Why don't you learn how to perform the play like real athletes instead of finding some loophole that allows you to in effect attach a handle to your uniform?? That's not innovation, that's just lazy. Learn to give a whip!

Aim however, respectfully disagrees: I don't think it's cheating at all. Girls whip by grabbing shirts, skirts and thong underwear too! But I do see your point about laziness. I recall getting frustrated sometimes cuz I'd have my hand back, ready, and they'd go for my belt. It would have been way more helpful to her to utilize the power assist from my arm/shoulder/torso than the belt. There's not as much transfer of power/momentum in it.”

I agree that there should not be a ban on wearing belts themselves. I just think practicing using them as a tool should be outlawed. Maybe that sounds a little harsh. Aim says “It’s not the only loophole that gets utilized”, but when does it end? When will it go too far?

I found out that adding jet propelled engines to my skates makes me go much faster, and there's nowhere in the rules that says it’s cheating, so you know what? I’m just going to do it. I mean the rules don't explicitly state I CAN'T have jet propelled engines on my skates, so it must be okay, right?

[Please note: The title picture is NOT from the game or even with the team in question. I don’t have a photo from that particular event, (not that I would call them out on it even if I did). I found this picture online featuring Hawaii’s HaoleWoods, many of which were wearing loose belts. I just felt this picture illustrated the idea well.]


  1. This is really interesting. A lot of my team wears loose belts for practice and bouts. I have never done so myself but am often encouraged to do so. A positive difference from what you describe may be that we practice both arm and hip whips every practice.

    Thinking of the belts as cheating is debatable to me. While it may be easier than pulling off a planned whip, if the use of belts is not practiced, the person wearing the belt will get pulled on their ass. Not exactly the best transfer of momentum in my opinion.

    Do folks that wear belts really have an advantage over those who learn traditional whip techniques? I'm not so sure they do. I can't see belts winning anyone a bout if the rest of their skills don't match up.

  2. I have played against a team that used the belts, and the reason I did not contest it or raise a bigger stink is because honestly, you're right: I didn't see it as that much of a threat. I viewed is more as a lazy technique that was ineffective.

    But I WILL go so far as to say they should be outlawed as a strategic tool and that teams should not encourage their skaters to wear them for this purpose, (or practice using them to whip). I do think it is cheating. Sure it has to be practiced in order to execute it effectively, but in my opinion that does not really make it a real sports play. It doesn't seem athletic to me.

    I think to become a legitimate sport we need to practice athleticism, and not trickery. The VooDolls used to say "There are no balls in roller derby!" We don't need anything besides our skates and pure athleticism to score points. And that's the way I think it should be.

  3. In Jerry Seltzer's words in reference to RollerJam "Just skate the game, dammit."

  4. I just found out the next coming issue of five on five magazine features an article on this very thing! I can't wait to see what they have to say.