Star passes – they’re so hot right now! From what I’ve noticed, passing the star (aka panty passes, aka passing the cap) hasn’t been in vogue for the last few years, but there have been several star passes in high-profile play in the last few months. Bonnie Thunders passed the star to Mick Swagger at ECDX. Rat City used more than one in their game against Portland in August. WFTDA Division II Playoffs and the first round of Division I Playoffs have featured several.
Let’s chat about a few ways passing the star can help your team get more points than the other team. Help me out in the comments with any situations I’m missing, okay?
First of all, everyone, make sure your pass is legal. Keep it within the engagement zone, and don’t be picking up fallen jammer helmet covers unless you’re a jammer or a pivot.
And remember – get that thing on your head before you enter the pack on a scoring pass.
Jammer gets gassed (panty pass classic)
This seems like the most common scenario I’ve seen in the last seven years, and not one with strong strategic planning behind it. The jammer gets hit too many times, or just gets frustrated with being unable to get through even an initial pass, so she passes off the jamming duties to the pivot for some relief.
If your pivot is willing and able to take the star in this situation, it can work to your team’s favor. If your pivot has a bad jamming attitude, you’ll just have two frustrated teammates on the floor.
Jammers, if you are too tired to jam effectively, passing the star is a viable option. Don’t look at it as “giving up.” You’re needed to play defense as soon as you give up that helmet cover, so “I can’t move anymore” is not an favorable mental outlook.
Don’t pass the star with under 20 seconds or so left in the jam. Your pivot needs that much time to clear the pack and make it back around to force the call off or score points. When time is running down, just play your best defense possible. Get in a wall and don’t go for any big hits. If you’re too tired to jam, you’re probably prone to committing penalties.
Penalty box savior
Your jammer is inexperienced, tired, or frustrated, and she’s been hanging out in the penalty box, perhaps with multiple trips. She needs to get out of rotation, so your team puts out a strong jammer as the pivot.
The penalized jammer needs to be in on the plan for this to work. Hand signals for “Hey, take off your helmet cover and give it to me” might be figured out more quickly by your competition than your freaked-out jammer. Try to make it a calm, smooth transition. Never remove the helmet cover from the jammer’s head. That just ain’t legal (3.5.4).
Star pass fake out (!)
In the final jam of the London vs. Rose City game at playoffs, Kamikaze Kitten acted like she was handing off the star to her pivot, but took it back again and ran off. Those sneaky Brits!
It’s hard to see in this video, but you can at least see the pivot signal for the pass by tapping the top of her head. They effectively confused the announcers, at least.
Start at 1:26:10 or so for the beginning of the final jam.
Was the fake out intentional? Did Kami just make it out on her own? Either way, the fake out is a plausible strategy. Naturally, it would be a strategy that your team works out ahead of time, not something you would try out at a black and white scrimmage for funsies without discussing it with your pivot.
“Get out of jail free”
The jammer is stuck behind a wall, and passes the helmet cover over, through, or around the wall to the pivot. It works off the jammer line for scrum starts, if you don’t need lead jammer status – maybe if there’s a 4-2 pack disadvantage?
It also works if lead jammer status has already been granted, or if your jammer already has all the points for a scoring pass and has been re-absorbed into the pack.
What other times does your team pass the star? When have you seen it be especially effective or ineffective?