As a vegetarian, I don’t really like sausage with my breakfast (ha ha, joke), but the internet seems to be googling the hell out of this “strategy.” Bummer. They must be googling it because they’ve either seen it, or want to know more. DON’T DO IT. IT’S BORING AND LAME. But your opponent is probably going to do it, and you’re probably going to see a lot of it for the time being, so you might as well understand how the sausage is being employed. Ew.
We’ve mentioned the sausage one time, but I didn’t really go into detail, so here we go.
The sausage, or sausage link, is the name for the strategy of establishing the pack speed as motionless. That being said, let’s take a peek at what the rules say about pack speed:
22.214.171.124.1: The rules do not define pack speed. Illegally destroying the pack penalties shall not be given for gradually deviating from the speed of the pack as established through game play, unless said deviation is sudden, rapid and marked, leaving the opposing team no opportunity to adjust and maintain a pack.
Yeah, it’s pretty much a mess.
Gotham started the sausaging trend, as far as I know, by starting a power jam with their blockers taking a knee in a small, tight formation as close to the corner between the jammer line and outside line as possible. The opposing team, naturally, would line up in front of the jammer, ready to block her. When the “no pack” is called at the beginning of the jam (you don’t normally hear this as a spectator, but it goes: One whistle for the jam start, the “no pack” is called because one team is on a knee, then two whistles for the jammer to be released. Tweet! No pack! Tweet tweet!), the Gotham blockers would stand and stay stationary, supposedly establishing the pack speed as…stopped. The opposing blockers play into this by trying to keep the jammer as slow as possible, but unless they can get the jammer out of bounds, they are forced to move forward in order to block. It’s a losing game, and the jammer eventually gets out on an out of play or no pack call. The Gotham blockers remain motionless, and the opposing blockers reform a wall just in time to do it all over again. Gotham gets a lot of points, and all their blockers have to do is stand up and stay there for a minute or so.
A variation I saw of this at North Central Playoffs had the sausaging blockers line up about five feet apart on the inside line. At the double jammer whistle, they stepped one step to the right, and the inside line was open for their jammer.
There are ways to counter this. Pipe up if you know something that I haven’t seen yet.
- Knock their jammer out of bounds and skate backwards. This can buy you at least 40 feet to work with if you work it right: 20 feet behind the pack, and 20 feet in front. Do this if possible. Most wily jammers will work to stay towards the middle of the track.
- Bridging, of course. Bridging is stringing out the pack definition to keep your foremost defensive blocker in play. Make sure your best one-on-one blocker is working as the last line of defense. You’ll have to work on this a lot at practice and talk a lot about it on the track.
- Slow down their jammer long enough to get one of the opposing team’s blockers to engage you. Yay, hitting! If you tire out the opposing jammer enough, the other team might choose to start skating long enough to try to hit you. If you’re moving, and they’re moving, all of the sudden the “established pack speed” is actually whatever speed you’re going! Magic! If they slow down or stop, they’re going to the penalty box. They might take that hit, which sucks. Not much you can do about that. Try not to get hit out of bounds in this circumstance, defensive blocker.
I need help with a certain scenario, though, roller derby world, so maybe we can put our brains together and come up with the right strategy to counter this.
Last night, at the BAD/Rat game, both teams were sausaging. Rat City pulled it first to my memory (just to be fair, here). But at the end of the game, BAD used it in this kind of devastating way.
BAD would pull the sausage, stop skating or not skate, etc. They were just within about 9.5 feet of the Rat skaters to keep the pack definition legal. But that’s a terrible situation for the Rat City defense – when you’re at a standstill and just one step away from a “no pack” being called, you have almost no room to block the opposing jammer. So Rat would back up a few feet to give themselves more room to block. As soon as they did, BAD would back up to keep that 9.5ish-foot buffer. When Rat moved back, so did BAD. How are you supposed to counter this? I suppose you could move all the way to the rear of the pack, but that’s going to take time, and jammers can get around that track in eight seconds or so.
I just don’t know.
In the Angel City/Rose City game yesterday, it was heartening to see Angel City get penalties for pulling the sausage (ha ha, pulling the sausage). As I’ve yelled at my laptop screen or over my shoulder on the track, you can’t just stop skating to slow the pack pace down. So don’t play into the sausage if you can help it: if your jammer goes to the box during a jam, keep skating forward if the other team stops. They are required to stay with you. If they stop, take your frustrations out on their jammer and don’t compound things by going to the box yourself. Those out of play majors are NOT worth it. A pack disadvantage will kill you.
Have fun skating out there, or watching, as the case may be. Lame strategy is a small, if annoying, part of the game.
And if you want to support teams who choose not to sausage if they can help it, go ahead and cheer for the Wheels of Justice! WOJ: Choosing to Skate Ever Since That Became a Thing.