Or, why are you messing around with all that backwards stuff?
Not too long ago, blocking while facing the opposite direction was a kind of special skill that super-cool blockers would pull out every once in a while to dazzle the fans. In the last year or two, it’s become more and more popular, and the expectation to be able to turn around and skate backward is officially codified by the WFTDA. Personally, I think it’s being used more often than it should be. Here’s the issue as I see it.
- You can see what’s coming at you
- Easy to wrap and hold someone once you have them caught
- Easy to hold at a slow speed (again, once you have them caught), with the advantage of using your toestops
- Potentially saves your point at the end of a jam
- You’re exposing a legal target zone, therefore: 1) You can’t pull a back block, and 2) You could get Scald Eagle-d
- Less pickup speed, lateral movement, and agilty while skating backwards
- No one’s really intimidated by that after they’ve seen it two times in real life
- More control over the opponent’s torso than her hips
- Potential of getting called for stopped block if you’re going slowly and the opponent stops pushing you
The big problem? Less pickup speed, lateral movement, and agility while skating backwards. We spend 90% or more of our practice time skating facing forward. That’s how we learn to take quick steps, positionally block, hit, slow down, and stop. The turnaround block is one trick in the bag, but it can be a very one-dimensional trick.
I’ve seen way too many skaters swing around to miss a last-minute reverse block instead of taking a few quick steps to get a hip check in. Turning around takes time you might not have, so you’re essentially giving away one step to the jammer. Except in an end-of-jam, point-saving situation, I’m not sure why you would attempt to block facing your opponent unless she’s already slowed down and trapped.
Am I missing something here?
We also need to figure out what to call this kind of blocking. Announcers like to make me crazy by calling it an “intimidation block,” which is kind of like calling an uppercut a “scary jaw hurter.” A badass blocker is just as intimidating whether you’re hurtling toward her ass or her face. Her ass will probably do more damage.