Saturday, July 25, 2009

Strategy Smackdown: The Intentional Fourth Foul

Flat track rollerderby has many quirks that differentiate it from other sports. The rollerskates, the .7 to 1 ratio of referees to players, the corsets and fishnet stockings, all of it contributes to a uniquely exciting sport. These quirks extend to the underlying strategies used by the players and none is quite so unusual as the intentional fourth minor penalty. When a player commits a single minor foul, there is no immediate consequence but when they reach their fourth minor foul, they have to spend one minute of gameplay in the penaltybox, putting their team at a disadvantage. This puts players in a quandry when they are lining up for the next jam knowing they have three minors: Should they try to avoid commiting a fourth foul or go ahead and get it over with so they can start with a clean slate? The answer to that question isn't an easy one because it depends on the skater position and the game situation. So to make it easier to understand, I've assembled the following information to explain when the intentional fourth minor should be used or avoided. I'll be using what has become the standard penalty of choice for this situation, lining up intentionally offsides. Also, the rollergirl for this illustration will be represented by Ms. Pacman.
Ms. Pacman endorses Suregrip Fugitives.

Playing it Straight - No Intentional Fourth

This is the strategy to choose in the following situations:
  • You're a blocker and there is more than 10 minutes left in the game.
    If you're a blocker and get the intentional fourth every time you have three, you will end up spending more total time in the penalty box than you would have otherwise, penalizing your team more. Play clean for as long as possible.
  • You're in the game as a jammer.
    Never never never ever ever ever commit an intentional fourth as a jammer. No nyet nein nicht nanka. Not unless you're ticked at your own team and want to give them the in-game version of the one-finger salute.

Riding the Perpetrator Pine - Comitting the intentional fourth

This is called for in certain specific situations:
  • You're normally a jammer but in the game as a blocker.
    Serving a penalty as a jammer hurts your team far more than serving as a blocker. A jammerless team can only lose ground to the oppostion or hold even if they're lucky. Checking in as a blocker and clearing your slate can help you avoid causing your team the agony of jammerlessness, the number one cause of scoreless jams.
  • You're a blocker near the end of a close game.
    If the game is close and you suspect it will be tight at the end, you might want to get your intentional fourth fairly near the end of the game when the team is at full strength so you know you won't be tossed during a critical game-deciding jam. The 10 minute mark is an approximate guideline, adjust according to your own fouliness.
  • Its a blowout.
    If you're winning, this gives the other team an extra glimmer of hope. If you're losing then, you know, screw this B.S., time to chill for a minute and look for hotties in the audience.

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