This is one of those terms in the derby world that has different meaning in different leagues. Some call it recycling. Some call it waterfalling. I call it waterfalling because it makes me want to sing like Lisa Left Eye Lopez, but if you want to be a dippy hippie and call it recycling, that’s call too.
The Silicon Valley Roller Girls define waterfalling as: when a set of two or more blockers rotate in a circular motion, sending one blocker after another to issue continuous hits to an opponent.
I think that’s kind of a weird definition (no offense ladies) and I’ll explain why. But before that, I’ll give my definition.
Stein defines waterfalling as: slipping some people and getting back into the action of the pack.
I will outline some situation that would be considered waterfalling, and then I’ll tie them together to form a more coherent definition for those of you who aren’t quite sure what my super awesome definition means.
Situation one: You’re holding back a jammer, but this quick bitch gets past you. She also gets past a few other people. However in front of you she gets slowed down by your last lonely blocker. Being a quick thinker, you and your team mates do a quick five step ass hauling and get back in front of this starry bitch (while not destroying the pack definition). That would be waterfalling.
Situation two: You’re getting ready to block an upcoming jammer and an opposing blocker hits you out of bounds. You get back in bounds and in position in time to be a nuisance to the upcoming jammer. Same thing happens to another blocker of yours. But she gets back in and blocks. This would be waterfalling.
Situation three: You’re in a four wall. The inside person gets knocked out by the jammer. The person next to the inside quickly steps in front of the jammer on the inside and slows her down. This gives the fourth blocker enough time to catch up and rejoin the wall.
The underlying point in those situations that ultimately defines waterfalling is that, yes, you are useless because the jammer is past you or you get knocked out or whatever. But instead of letting that be the end of the story, you get back into the action as quick as you can and make yourself useful again. This is why some people call it recycling. You got used once, but you’re going to put yourself in the position where you’re useful again as many times as you possibly can.
Because some of you are visual learners, here’s a link to a video that has some sweet slow motion action during a moment of recycling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElpzuErRuf0
The end of the video is a really good illustration of a person recycling. She was already behind the jammer as a point scored, but she came up on the inside and blocked her. She did so by hitting the shit out her, which is also an option, but the main point is that she got back in front of the jammer after being passed by the jammer. I’ve jammed in scrimmages enough times to know how fucking annoying that shit it when you’re getting your jam on. Sometimes it’s a lot of work to get past a person, and it is holy fuckballs annoying when you have to do it more than once. You pass her once, get a point, she waterfalls, you have to pass again. And again. And fucking again. And JESUS CHRIST ARE YOU KIDDING ME again.
There’s a few things that need to be emphasized when explaining the importance and effectiveness of waterfalling. First off, just because the jammer got past you and made you a point does not mean you give up and aggressively watch. Watching does nothing. Instead of giving up like your thighs do during the 27 in 5, you need to get with your team mates and act as an obstacle. Even if you’re already a point you can act as an obstacle for the opposing jammer to get past and tire her the fuck out. Have you ever seen an opposing jammer skating around the track, legs barely lifting off the ground, trying to catch her breath? Spoiler alert: It’s awesome. It’d be like hunting for opportunititties at Mardi Gras and happening upon a DD. It’s what happens when your hard work and their lack of morals/endurance coincide to give you what you wanted.
Something else to note is that waterfalling does not mean chasing the jammer all the way around the track. It’s less chasing, and more a moment of quick judgement, trying to stay together and position. If you’re behind the opposing jammer and she has a clear way out of the pack she’s hauling ass for, you’re too late. If you’ve got some quickstepping blockers who can get in front of her and slow her down, catch up to her as soon as you can.
Since part of the point of this blog is to explain shit and then give drills or ways to work on the specific skills discussed, here are some drills to help with getting comfortable waterfalling.
Have one four wall with one opposing blocker acting as offense. No jammer. Have the offensive blocker hit and try to break you up. If you get goated or fall out of bounds, waterfall back in. If this is or gets too easy, up the number of offensive blockers to 2, then 3, then 4. Do this for two laps, switch up the players, repeat.
Line up in a four wall. Skate around the track. On the whistle, everyone rotates one position to the left, with the inside person skating past the front to the outside. Don’t just mosey when you do it. Sidestep quickly, make sure the inside line stays covered.
I’m going to say first off that I don’t like this drill, because it makes a bad habit out of your focus. Kiki Urhaz said she liked the drill, and since I’m not an authority on roller derby like she is, I’ll include it.
Team of four positions in a square formation. Two offensive blockers try to break them up. You go one lap and if the four can get across the line without an opposing blocker between any of them, they win.
My issue with the focus of it is that it gets you in the habit of focusing on your little group of people. In a bout you’re focus needs to be on the entire track, not just the little group of your team mates.
Those are a few drills off the top of my head. I’m going through this a bit quick because it’s been a bit since I’ve posted, and I owe you all a post. Also, to the person who asked about filming this shit: we ordered a camera. It’s on the way.