Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice repeated quick blasts of power/sprinting (good for jammers); to get some good exercise; to practice transitions (if you so choose)
Typical length of drill: 7 mins timed (add or subtract minutes depending on your skaters' abilities)
Materials needed: None
Skill level required: None
Description: Have all your skaters line up next to each other along the long side of your rink/space.  It's good for them to stand at least one arm's length away from the person next to them, so that they don't risk running into each other once the drill is going.  The timer and the skaters start on a whistle blast.  The skaters sprint from one long side of the space to the other.  At each end they perform your choice of turning toe stop, hockey stop, T-stop or knee slide and then get right back to sprinting to the other side.  That's it.  The skaters simply sprint back and forth like this, over and over again for the entire time.
Additional notes: It's a classic, it's simple, some might perhaps call it boring, but it's effective.  This kind of drill is done in a lot of different sports, and in fact, it also works really well off-skates where the skaters just touch a line or cone at each end instead of performing any sort of transition or stop.  It's also a good base for variations.  We will be posting some soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cross-training: Ice Skating

Alternative names: --
Objective: To be able to practice roller derby and improve your skills even when you don't have an indoor space to use, and even when the weather outside is frightful
Typical length of drill: N/A
Materials needed: A pair of ice skates, good thick gloves, knee pads, and depending on your own skill level and comfort, you can choose to deck out in the full derby protective gear (and I definitely did it myself the first time)
Skill level required: None
Description: Ok, so, this is not really a drill, but I really want to inspire all of you to try ice skating to see how you can use it to your advantage as a roller derby skater.  Your roller derby skills are totally transferable to the ice.  I don't think that we should be playing straight-up full-contact roller derby on the ice what with the dangers that the sharp blades pose, and the difficulty of fitting all the appropriate protective gear over winter clothes, but those of us who live in countries where the winter comes on hard we can really take advantage of the ice skating opportunities.  There are several different things that you can practice on the ice, and we've covered just a handful of them in the video.  The video is meant to get you started and motivate you to try some simple things just to see what you're capable of, and then you can start trying out some more advanced things yourself.  Some of the things that you can practice on the ice (most of which we demonstrate in the video) are: Endurance, agility, balance, stops, and assists.  Balance in particular can be practiced really effectively on ice skates because it can be much harder to stay up on two thin blades on slippery ice than on eight grippy wheels on hardwood floor.

Disclaimer: Although ice skating is very similar to roller skating, it is NOT the same.  If you're great at roller skating, don't assume that you'll naturally be great at ice skating.  I did and was sorely disappointed when I discovered that it was like month two of derby training all over again.  The good news is though, that it doesn't take long to improve.  Just like when you started practicing roller derby, every time you skate you'll learn something new.  The improvements are tangible.  If you keep practicing, you'll be doing gliding swans and shooting the duck in no time!

Video: Roller derby cross-training: Ice Skating

Additional notes: This video was made by All Derby Drills and some really determined skaters from Helsinki Roller Derby who had no qualms about braving the -12°C weather for two hours (and did I mention it was snowing the whole time too?).  Plans for a video demonstrating some actual derby drills that you can do on ice skates is in the works too, stay tuned.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Back Bump Drill

Alternative names: --
Objective: To teach skaters to avoid back-blocking; to practice partner blocking at zero speed
Typical length of drill: 10-15 mins
Materials needed: A full track
Skill level required: None
Description: Split the league in half. One half lines up outside the track. The other half pairs up and staggers around the track, preferably ten feet between each pair.  The skaters in line sprint toward each pair and try to get around them while staying in bounds and not back-blocking. The pairs shuffle across the track, staying together, and use their backs to engage the skater sprinting toward them. (They can also lean, hip check or sternum block to knock the skater out of bounds.) If the skater trying to get through the wall is leaned or knocked out of bounds she must re-enter legally (behind the wall) and try again.  After five minutes, switch so everyone gets a chance to build the wall with a partner and break through the wall alone.  If a skater back-blocks someone during the drill, she has to drop to the side of the track and do ten push-ups.
Additional notes: Originally posted on the roller derby coaches Yahoo group by Punchy O'Guts of Maine Roller Derby, but she credits it to the Boston Derby Dames.

If you enjoy this drill you may also like the drill Bouncy Blockers.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Defensive Wall Builder

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice having a specific job in the pack during each jam; to practice keeping holes from forming in the pack/your strategic formation; staying focused on blocking the oppsing jammer
Typical length of drill: Unknown
Materials needed: A full track.  Alternatively you could go with cones to mark just a rough outline of the track but if you do, make sure to tell your jammers that this is a drill specifically for the blockers to practice, not so much for them to practice their own jamming (some jammers forget this and then head for the loosely defined outside track boundary to sneak by quasi-legally)
Skill level required: None if you choose to run this as a non-contact drill
Description: Work in groups of three skaters, each with a specific job: one covering the inside line, one covering the middle to the outside line of the track, and the third acting as the first line of defense against the jammer. Send a jammer through the pack -- she should keep skating until she is able to break through or until the three blockers have had an opportunity to work together on their positioning. The third player should create and maintain a comfort zone between herself and her two teammates to avoid bunching up, while being prepared to sprint up and cover any holes in the wall if the jammer gets by her.
Additional notes: Created by the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, this drill has also appeared in fiveonfive magazine.  Posted here with permission from the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.  This is part of our WFTDA Champions -series: Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Leg Burners

Alternative names: --
Objective: To get a muscle workout; to practice getting and staying really low
Typical length of drill: 7-10 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just four cones to mark the inside track line, and one additional cone in a different color to use as a marker
Skill level required: None
Description: Set up your marker -cone on one of the corners, next to the track boundary.  On the whistle all the skaters start by skating one lap around, and when they pass the cone, they begin to sprint.  When they pass the cone the next time, they get into a proper squat position, with their arms out straight and all eight wheels on the floor, and then they coast/skate this way until they pass the cone again, at which point they sprint again.  Repeat this cycle of alternating a lap of sprinting with a lap of low squat coasting/skating for about at least 5-7 minutes or for a certain number of laps (i.e. start with 25 and see how your skaters do and feel).  The coach should make sure that the skaters' squat stances are proper and that their knees are not turning in (everything should be aligned so as to prevent knee -damage: toes, knees, hips, shoulders).
Additional notes: This drill was originally posted by Marc Schneider on the roller derby coaches Yahoo group here.  I really like this drill, it's a really great workout and a good way to practice staying low even after getting tired and sore.  It's also a really easy drill to do and I think it can thus very appropriate for freshmeat.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Three Team Mayhem

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice jamming; to practice helping your jammer through the pack; to practice blocking the opposing jammer
Typical length of drill: Depends entirely on the number of skaters you have, but reserve at least 15 mins for this
Materials needed: A full track
Skill level required: None if you choose to run this as a non-contact drill
Description: Divide skaters into three even groups. Each group sends a pair consisting of a jammer and a blocker to make their way through the other two opposing groups. When the jammer breaks through a group, she and her blocker should move onto the next pack of opposing blockers. Once the jammer/blocker pair makes it back to their original group, a new pair is sent off to fight their way through the opposing packs. Dependent on time, each skater should go through the drill as both a blocker and a jammer.
Additional notes: Created by Frida Beater of the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, this drill has also appeared in fiveonfive magazine.  Posted here with permission from the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.  This is part of our WFTDA Champions -series: Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Quick Change

Alternative names: --
Objective: For blockers to practice paying attention to the jammer(s) in the pack and playing either offensively or defensively depending on what is going on in the pack
Typical length of drill: 10-15 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just a couple of cones to mark the inside track line
Skill level required: None if you choose to run this as a non-contact drill
Description: Divide the skaters into small packs with teams of four to six people each. Designate a jammer from each pack. The jammer will have a jammer panty from each team. The jammer starts in the back of the pack and changes her helmet cover right before she starts to skate through the pack. Each team must adjust to offense or defense depending on which jammer panty the jammer is wearing.
Additional notes: Created by Frida Beater of the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, this drill has also appeared in fiveonfive magazine.  Posted here with permission from the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.  This is part of our WFTDA Champions -series: Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.

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WFTDA Champions -series: Rocky Mountain Rollergirls drills

Since the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls' incredible 1-point win at the WFTDA Championships this year, many skaters and coaches have been asking themselves "What Would A Champion Do practice?"  That has been the inspiration to our WFTDA Champions -series where we post drills by WFTDA champion -leagues and invite champion -league coaches to guest blog!  We will be starting off this series with drills created by the athletes on RMRG and then continue to sprinkle our regular repertoire with more champion -drills in due time.

So stay tuned and don't forget to rate, comment, and discuss the drills! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sticky Toffee

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice being mindful of what’s going on around you; to practice skating in chaotic situations.
Typical length of drill: 5-10 minutes
Materials needed: --
Skill level required: This is a non contact game, open to all levels.
Description: This game is a variation of the original tag game.

This game is played for a set period of time. Tagger(s) are elected at the start of the game. The skaters skate in a predetermined direction. When a skater is tagged they make their way to the nearest wall. They stand next to it with an arm straight out touching the wall. This creates a gap that a free skater can skate through to free the tagged skater. The taggers are switched approx. once a minute through this game to keep the skaters on their toes. Someone will announce things like “All skaters with red helmets are taggers”, “All skaters with white wheels are taggers”, “All girls are taggers” etc. However the latter in an RD league might be grossly unfair for the handful of boys playing. A tagged person immediately becomes free when the taggers change. 

During the last round, when a skater gets tagged they are removed from the game, and the last skater is the winner. 

A single whistle will start the game. Four short whistle blasts will stop the game.

Video: Sticky Toffee 

Additional notes: --

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cat & Rat

Alternative names: Cat 'n' Mouse
Objective: To have juvenile fun off skates while still getting some exercise; retreat -type team building
Typical length of drill: 10 mins
Materials needed: Just a large open space (this game can be played both outdoors and in)
Skill level required: None
Description: You need an even number of skaters to play this game.  One skater is designated the cat and another skater is designated the mouse.  All the other skaters are safe mice and they lay down on the floor in pairs, on their stomachs, spreading themselves out around the space that is in use.  The game starts on the whistle.  The designated cat is trying to catch the designated mouse while the mouse is running around the space (making sure to avoid stepping on any of the safe mice laying on the floor).  To save itself, the mouse can throw herself/himself down next to one of the pairs of mice forcing the mouse on the other side to have to get up and become chased by the cat.  Any time that the cat catches the mouse by tagging her/him the roles switch so that there is always a cat in-play and always a mouse on the run.  The cat CAN tag a mouse that is laying on the floor if s/he has not noticed that the mouse who was on the run laid down on the other side of her/his pair.  The game ends when the coach decides it's over and blows the whistle.
Additional notes: Though this is one of those old children's games that has been around forever and I've played it many many times as a kid I still have to give credit to my friend Trixie GrandBang here because she's the one who came up with using this as a warm-up at one of our weekly off-skates practices this year.  It was super fun to do it with all of our teammates and it really put everyone in a good mood.  When you play this game with adults it can get pretty intense, with people taking huge leaps to jump over a pair of mice lying on the floor, or soccer -sliding into position next to a pair of mice on the floor to make themselves safe.  It's awesome.

A word of warning: After many many months of playing roller derby I have trained my body to fall on its knees whenever I lose balance.  Once when I played this game in a school gym I lost my balance and immediately went for a baseball slide to save myself.  I was *not* wearing knee pads.  Bad idea.  Try not to do that.  Those bruises took a while to heal.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On a Mission From the KGB

Alternative names: FBI vs. KGB, Mission From the FBI, Cold War
Objective: To practice hitting in a game-play situation; hitting hard whilst skating in a pack; following through on your chosen target and always knowing where they are; making sure that you are still paying attention to everything that is going on around you while you have a special mission
Typical length of drill: 20 mins
Materials needed:
  1. A complete track
  2. As many small pieces of paper as the number of skaters (each piece must be big enough to fit the name of a skater)
  3. Two bowls or hats or other receptacles to keep the notes in
  4. Preferably a couple of referees to keep track of legal and illegal hits
  5. Skaters should all have a black or a white shirt with their names written on the back
Skill level required: Skaters must be cleared for contact; intermediate contact skills recommended as this game tends to get a little aggressive
Description: In this game all the skaters have been recruited by the KGB to "kill" another skater.  For each successful knockdown the skaters earn 1000 rubles and the skater with the largest bank account at the end wins the game.

First, split the skaters up into two teams based on their shirt colors, white vs. black.  Hand out a small piece of paper to each skater and have each skater write her/his name (legibly) on her/his note and then fold the piece of paper twice.  All the white team's skaters place their names in one of the two bowls, and the black team's skaters place their names in the other.  Each person on the black team is going to pull the name of a white skater out of the bowl, and each white skater is going to pull the name of a black skater out of the bowl.  It's crucial that no one lets on whose name they pulled out of the bowl, your target is supposed to be a secret to everyone else (this also means no tell-tale glances or obvious sizing-up).  Then have all the skaters get into one huge pack on the pivot line.  On the whistle they will begin skating and they will have one minute to "kill" their target.  During this game the skaters are going to skate in a pack as if we they are playing regular roller derby except there will be no jammers, only a team of white blockers vs. a team of black blockers.  Each skater's mission is to knock over the person whose name they pulled out of the bowl using all manners of legal hitting (that means IN bounds, IN play, and only using legal target zones and legal blocking zones).  Any time that you get "killed" (knocked to the ground) you skate out of bounds and do 10 push-ups to recover.  Any time that you are able to legally knock your target down to the ground you earn 1000 rubels.  If you knock someone over illegally you earn no money but the fallen skater still has to do her 10 push-ups to recover.  If you knock down someone else's target instead of your own, you earn no money but the killed skater still has to do her time in the hospital: 10 push-ups out of bounds.  At the end of each 60-second jam both the teams pull out new names for the next jam.  This way the targets are constantly rotating, the skaters learn that they can't always be watching out for the same person from the opposing team, and everyone gets a chance to try to knock over many different types of skaters.  The person who has earned the most money by the very end of the game, wins.  Skaters should keep track of their own earnings.
OPTIONS: Depending on the number of skaters you have at practice you may want to split the skaters into smaller groups so that you don't have 30 of them skating in a pack all hitting each other at the same time.  Also, if you want to make the game more team-oriented, you can change it to FBI vs. KGB where the black team has been recruited by the FBI to kill KGB agents and the white team has been recruited by the KGB to take out FBI agents.  All the skaters still have a specific target to knock out from the other team but the money at the end of each jam is pooled together and the team with the most money at the end of the game wins the Cold War.  In this version some of the skaters may want to help their teammates in taking out their target by using positional blocking.  In a much simpler version of the game, you don't even need to split the skaters into two different teams, you can just have everyone put their names in one big bowl and let the hit-fest begin!  This however does not train your skaters to be on the lookout for people from the opposing team as they will have to be looking out for people of all shirt colors.  IMO it can be even more chaotic than the original version.

Additional notes: Although I prefer strategic play over hit-n-run games, I still think that knowing how and when to give big hits is an important part of playing roller derby well.  I came up with the idea for this game when a league asked me to coach them specifically on contact.  Their problem was that although they knew how to hit and they were able to do it in contact -drills, they were not applying their skills well in scrimmages or during games.  They needed to get used to hitting within the pack and during jams when there is a lot going on at once.  This drill forces the skaters to use contact while they are skating in a pack for about the length of one jam and there is a lot going on at once.  The skaters also have to pay attention and keep looking around them while they are out on their missions (a WFTDA minimum skills requirement: 3.4 Focus), otherwise they risk getting knocked out of the park.   The addition of a game -winner in this drill drives some people to perform better, and the addition of a "punishment" if you get knocked down gets people to control themselves more, not just throw their weight around without thought to consequences, and they pay better attention to their surroundings.  If you like this game you might also like Sniper Frogger.

IMPORTANT: This drill can get a little aggressive so it's really good to remind your skaters over and over again that the hits should be legal and that they should not be out to hurt their teammates, just knock them off-balance.  This is also why I really do not recommend this drill for skaters who have just been cleared for contact.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010


Alternative names: Shopping Carts
Objective: To build up endurance and strengthen the derby muscles; to practice proper derby stance; to support each other
Typical length of drill: 10 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just four cones to mark the inside track line
Skill level required: None
Description: This is an endurance drill where skaters take turns pushing and pulling three other skaters for 60 seconds at a time.  Divide all of your skaters into groups of four (if your skaters don't evenly divide into groups of four you can have one or two groups of five, or involve the referees!) and then have all the groups spread themselves out around the track so that everyone isn't starting from the same exact place.  The groups should form lines where everyone but the first person is holding on to the hips of another skater, essentially building a train (see image below). On the whistle the person in the back begins pushing the three skaters in front of her/him while the three skaters stay in proper derby stance doing nothing but being dead-weight.  The skater in the back pushes her/his teammates for 60 seconds and then the coach blows the whistle again signaling for the pusher to let go and skate up to the front of the line and become dead-weight.  The person now in the back begins pushing.  This continues until all the skaters in line have gotten the chance to push for 60 seconds, then the pulling begins.  Each skater pulls the line of three dead-weight skaters behind her for 60 seconds and then drops back and grabs onto the skater in the back becoming dead-weight herself/himself.

Coaches during this drill should consistently be correcting skaters on their form because after a while this drill gets really heavy on the legs and skaters begin standing up more.  It's good to remind skaters that they can make it easier for the pusher/puller by being low -- the taller a skater stands, the more difficult it is for the pusher/puller.  If you look at the image below the skaters being pushed should be told to get lower, and particularly the skater in the pink shorts second from the front should be told to bend her knees more as her stance is not quite proper.

Additional notes: This is another one of those drills I learned while skating with New Hampshire Roller Derby :)  I think that this drill is great for freshmeat because they can practice the proper stance and form without having to worry about falling since they are all attached.  Also, this drill gives all the skaters a good chance to show each other some love -- during the drill they should be helping each other out by encouraging their teammates to push themselves and keep going hard and not give up.  Finally I'd also like to add that this is a great drill to do in the clockwise direction, in fact, we often change direction in the middle, when we switch from pushing to pulling.

Minnie Gun BangBang pushing a group of three at a Helsinki Roller Derby practice. Photo by Mick Dagger.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Follow the Douchebag

Alternative names: Follow the DB, Douchebag -drill
Objective: Paying attention, speed control and pack skills
Typical length of drill: 10-15 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just four cones to mark the inside track line
Skill level required: None
Description: First off you need a very good skater to be the leader.  All the skaters pack up in a huge pack behind the leader on the track. Their goal is to stay in pack proximity to each other and as close as possible to the leader.  The leader's job is to be a douchebag: vary their speed, stop suddenly, race around the track, etc.

The rules are if any member of the pack:

  • bumps into another girl (even no impact bump)
  • touches the ground with anything but her skates
  • skates out of bounds at all
  • is lapped by the leader
  • or is unable to stop before her hips pass the leaders hips
...they jump off the track and do 10 push-ups. Then they rejoin the pack as quickly as possible.  Keep it up until everyone is getting really annoyed at you or is getting tired and sloppy.

Additional notes: This can be an excellent warm-up drill to get a practice started and I personally really like it and think of it as a fun game to break up endurance or skills practices.  The drill has been posted multiple times on the roller derby coaches Yahoo group by many different people and with a variety of names (all usually referring to "douchebag" at some point) and after some research I have found that the name Follow the Douchebag was given by Doc Holiday of the Rose City Rollers.  Though it is not completely clear who the originator of the drill was, Cupples Skate of the Rose City Rollers used to run this drill as a warm-up before the league's weekly scrimmages four years ago so it may have started there.  Because I like to know the history and stories behind drills I'd love to know if anyone has any additional background information about this one!

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Angel 'n' Asshole

Alternative names: --
Objective: To learn how to avoid sudden obstacles; to practice good communication, closing up holes in the pack, and assisting your jammer; to practice jamming
Typical length of drill: 15 minutes
Materials needed: A full track or just four cones to mark the inside track line
Skill level required: None
Description: This is a variation on the drill called Asshole.  Get all your skaters together into one gianormous pack.  Designate an asshole and give her/him the pivot panty.  Designate a jammer (or angel) and give her/him the jammer panty.  On the whistle the pack begins skating around the track.  The pack's job is to:
  • sustain a steady medium pace
  • maintain a tight-knit pack where everyone can easily touch several people on command
  • make holes for and assist the jammer through the pack
  • close holes immediately after the jammer has gotten through so as to keep the asshole from being able to easily disrupt the pack
  • loudly communicate with each other about what is happening in the pack, most specifically about the positions and movements of the angel and the asshole
Once the pack is skating around the track at a steady pace the asshole begins to do the dirty work.  Her/his mission is to make the other skaters' jobs much more complicated by:
  • falling down in front of the pack
  • bumping wheels with skaters
  • slowing down in the middle of the pack
  • forcing her/his way to the inside line and stopping there
  • turning around and skating clockwise through the pack, etc. etc.
S/he creates obstacles for the pack so that they have to work hard to keep holes from forming for anyone but the jammer, and work hard to communicate.  The skaters are not to block the asshole in this drill.  At the same time that the asshole is wreaking havoc in the pack, the jammer is trying to get through as swiftly as possible.  The jammer's job in this drill is to just jam through the pack without incurring any penalties, and to communicate her/his needs to the pack (i.e. "Open up the inside line for me!" "Give me a push out of the pack!").  Every jammer goes for one pass through the pack and then hands off the panty to someone else.  This part is easiest if the jammer (once s/he's gotten through the pack) skates 20 feet in front of the pack and stays at that distance from the pack until the coach has yelled out the name of the next jammer and that skater has come to grab the panty from the former jammer.  Then it's easy for the new jammer to just take off from in front of the pack and start skating towards the back of it, and for the old jammer to just drop back to become part of the pack. 

Additional notes: This is a fun way for greenhorns to get to try jamming for the first time -- no one is blocking, everyone is helping, it really takes the pressure off.  When I've run this drill I've tried to give everyone at least one chance to jam, and we'll pass the asshole -panty around so that at least a few people get to try that as well (plus it's quite tiring to be the asshole for a really long period of time).  It's a fun drill that feels more like a game but at the same time it's really good for practicing communication and alertness.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jammer Relay Race

Alternative names: --
Objective: To give the derby muscles (aka quads) a good workout; to practice passing the star
Typical length of drill: 10 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just four cones to mark the inside track line
Skill level required: None
Description: This drill pins the skaters against each other in a race around the track, one skater and one lap at a time, while all of the skaters' teammates are holding a squat.

First, set up two cones next to the track -- they should be about 5 feet apart and about 5 feet from the track to avoid any skaters running into each other as they enter and exit the track.  I usually set up the cones between turns 3 and 4 because most practice spaces I've been in have allowed for more leeway on the outside of the turns than the outside of the straightaways.  Then split the skaters into two equal-sized teams (if one team has one more skater than the other team, make sure you tell the team skating one player short that the first person will have to skate twice).  Have each team line up behind one of the cones and give the first person in each line a jammer panty with which to cover their helmets.  On the whistle the first person in each line should immediately take off and race each other around the track for one lap, and all the skaters left in the lines should immediately pop down into squat positions.  Once a racing skater has completed her/his one lap and s/he comes back to the cone, s/he hands off the jammer panty to the next person in line and then skates to the back of the line and assumes the squat position.  The new "jammer" now races someone from the other team around the track and once s/he's completed her/his one lap s/he hands off the jammer panty to the next person on her/his team and gets back into line to squat.  The relay race continues like this until all skaters on the team have sprinted one lap around the track, and only then are the skaters allowed to get up out of their squat.  The winning team gets to un-squat sooner so there's the reason to push hard in the race.  Usually I repeat this game three times in a row, with about a 60-second reset time in-between each game (I allow the teams to strategically rearrange their skaters during that time if they want to), and finally the team that lost the most games does 10 or 15 push-ups as "punishment" (and sometimes the winning team wants to do 10-15 sympathy push-ups together with the losers, which I think is pretty damn cool!).

Note: I usually tell the skaters that they do not have to wait until the jammer panty is completely covering their helmet, that they are allowed to begin skating as soon as they are in the process of placing the jammer panty onto their helmets.  No one is allowed to skate with the panty in just their hand.

Additional notes: This is one of my favorite drills ever!  Doing this at practice usually lifts everyone's spirits because everyone is always cheering for each other and skaters even forget that they are in pain from squatting because they are so excited about the racing.  It's a really simple drill that doesn't require much skill or many materials, but it's an effective muscle workout and it's great at lightening the mood at practice.  I'm proud of this one!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One Ring to Rule Them All

Alternative names: The One Ring
Objective: To get a serious quad workout; to work together as a team and to support each other through a hard workout
Typical length of drill: 10 mins
Materials needed: None
Skill level required: None
Description: In this drill all the skaters are going to work together as a team to do multiple sets of slow squats.  Get all your skaters to stand next to each other in a circle with their arms across each others' shoulders.  With their arms around each other the skaters all begin to lower themselves into a squat, getting down to a 90-degree angle at their knees, and then without letting go of each other they all slowly stand back up again.  Repeat this squatting motion 9 more times, take a 30-second breather, and then begin another set of 10 squats.  Depending on what level your skaters are at in their training (and what level of competitive play your skaters are trying to reach) you may want to stop after two sets of 10 repetitions, or keep going with three, four, or even five sets.  This is also a team building activity since the skaters must do the squats together and support each other to get through it.
Additional notes: The credit for this drill goes to my BFF who doesn't play derby but is an honorary rollergirl and a slight exercise addict.  She did this exercise in a bodycombat course and thought it might apply itself well to derby training.  I think it sounds *great* but I must add the disclaimer here stating that we have NOT tried this on skates ourselves so we're not sure how big the chance is of skaters losing their balance and falling during this exercise.  I have a feeling that the chances of losing balance and falling are pretty small since everyone is holding on to each other and thus have a great deal of physical support, but, there is also the small probability that since everyone is on skates if one heavier person begins to fall s/he may take all the other skaters down with her.  I would really like to hear comments from someone who has tried this (or something similar to it) on skates before!

Also, keep in mind that this drill can totally be done off-skates at any off-skates practice that your league might have!

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Tail Tag

Alternative names: --
Objective: Having fun; getting some light agility practice; practice paying attention to those around you whilst paying attention to your own position and body
Typical length of drill: 5-10 mins
Materials needed: As many pieces of approximately 50 cm x 3 cm ribbon as there are skaters (the lengths of ribbon don't have to be store-bought, they can be made of cut-up t-shirts, cut-up plastic bags, or really anything that you can cut or craft into the approximate right length and width).  If you wish to play this game on the track then you will obviously also need a track, it is not a requirement though.
Skill level required: None really, though basic weaving and stopping skills are a definite plus
Description: Hand out a length of ribbon to each skater.  Each skater puts her/his ribbon into the back of her/his pants so that most of it is hanging out as a tail but so that it doesn't fall out on its own while the skater is going fast.  On the whistle everyone begins skating (and the coach should decide before starting the game whether everyone is going to be allowed to skate around in every which way they please like in a regular game of tag, or if everyone should be skating on the track in a particular direction).  The object of the game is to try and collect the tails of other skaters and not lose your own.  Every time you catch the tail of another skater you get to keep it in your hand.  You are not allowed to take tails from other skaters' hands, only pull them from the backs of their pants.  When you lose your tail to another skater you replace it with one of the collected tails in your hand.  Once you are out of collected tails and you lose the last tail out of your pants, you are out of the game.  The last skater (or last two skaters) left standing with all the tails, wins.
Additional notes: Yes, it's another drill based on a children's game, in case you couldn't tell :)  This one is also really fun to do off-skates during a league retreat or as a warm-up on an off-skates training day!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Stuck in the Mud

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice being mindful of what’s going on around you; to practice skating in chaotic situations.
Typical length of drill: 5-10 minutes
Materials needed: --
Skill level required: This is a non contact game, open to all levels.
Description: This game is a variation of the original tag game.

This game is played for a set period of time. A tagger (could be more than one depending on the number of skaters) is elected at the start of the game. The skaters can skate in any direction. When a skater is tagged they are now “Stuck”. They come to a halt and place their hands on their head. Any non tagged skater can free a stuck skater by skating around the stuck skater twice.
A skater can still be tagged while trying to free a stuck skater.
The game ends at the end of the time, or when all skaters have been tagged bar one. The last non tagged skater is the winner. If more time allows elect new tagger(s) and re-start game.
A single whistle will start the game. Four short whistle blasts will stop the game.
Additional notes: --

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Train Game

Alternative names: --
Objective: To build teamwork / co-ordination.
Typical length of drill: 5-10 minutes
Materials needed: None
Skill level required: This is a non contact game, open to all levels.
Description: This is a team race game. Or just a team building exercise.

The skaters are split into approximately into 6 skaters per team.
Each team should have the same number of experienced skaters / inexperienced skaters.
Each team must build a train. This consists of three types of skaters. These are:
1.     The engine (one only)
2.     Rear Carriage (Skater stands, one only)
3.     Front Carriages (Skater sits, four in a six team train)
First the train is built from the rear carriage working forwards. The Rear carriage stands and the front carriage sits in front placing their hand on the skates on the rear carriage. All other front carriages build in the same manor. They sit in front of the carriage behind them and place their hands on their skates.
Once the train is built the engine pushes from behind the rear carriage. A designated practice time must be used to adjust the skaters positions for best results, and to get the skaters used to being pushed and going around corners. Once all teams have had enough practice then the races can begin.
Depending on the size of hall, you must decide how long the race will last, perhaps just one lap of the hall, may be two. Depending on the number of teams you may have a knockout, or perhaps the best of three races.
Once you have decided the above the teams race against each other.
This does not have to be a race, It could just be one team building exercise where you build just one very long train and try to complete a circuit without the train falling apart. You may need 2 engines if the train is very long. It really is a free format event this one.

Video: Train Game 

Additional notes: --

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Chocolate Game

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice being mindful of what’s going on around you; to practice skating smoothly and in control in chaotic situations.
Typical length of drill: 5-10 minutes
Materials needed: Each skater must have a paper plate. There should be about 5 chocolates per skater (chocolates must be individually wrapped as they can end up on the floor, they could also get run over, so try to avoid ones with very soft centers that will create a mess).
Skill level required: This is a non contact game, open to all levels.
Description: The idea of this game is to acquire/steal as many chocolates from other skaters as possible. This game is played for a set period of time. The skaters skate in a determined direction around the hall with 5 chocolates on their plate. The skaters are allowed to take/steal chocolates from the other skaters.

Each skater must:
1. Hold the plate flat and in front of them, exposing the chocolates to others at all times.
Each skater must NOT:
1. Conceal chocolates on their person.
2. Eat chocolates during the game
3. Hold plate against their body, so concealing the chocolates
4. Fold the plate in half, so concealing the chocolates
5. Cover the chocolates with the spare hand.
6. Conceal the chocolates in any other way.
Any chocolates that get knocked onto the floor can be picked up by anyone. It is legal to knock an opponent’s plate, spilling their chocolates onto the floor.

A single whistle will start the game. Four short whistle blasts will stop the game. If there are any chocolates on the ground they can still be picked up by the skaters. The skater with the most chocolates on their plate at the end is the winner.

Video: Chocolate game

Additional notes: This game was created by Tim Wheals of Sk8shool, Eastbourne, Great Britain:

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Upcoming guest blogger: Reckless Rowly

It's time to welcome our next guest blogger: Say 'Hello' to Reckless Rowly of Helsinki Roller Derby! Reckless will be bogging on the topic of Fun and Games and as an added bonus you will all get to see some one-of-a-kind helmet-cam video of some of the drills :)  Reckless has had a long and complicated relationship with roller skating so I am introducing him in his own words:

Reckles Rowly, Ref
"Ever since I was very young I always wanted a pair of roller skates. Unfortunately my parents were over protective and thought they were too dangerous. So it was not until I was eighteen that I purchased my first pair of quad skates (this was back in 1979 – Inlines had not been perfected then). I loved them and lived in them, hardly took them off for the next three years. I think I took them off for a shower – Ah, so that’s why my bearings kept on going rusty so quickly.

Unfortunately I’m English, and England is not a good place to skate. The typical attitude to roller skating in the UK is 'It’s something you do as a kid and grow out of.' There are pockets of skating communities in the UK, and they do thrive. However if you are not living near one of these pockets then skating is pretty grim.  And I was not living near one of these pockets, and to do any sensible skating had to drive several miles. Alas by 1982 I’d hung my skates up.

In 1997 the inline skate craze was at its peak. And I decided to purchase a pair of inlines. This coincided with me moving to Germany where they have very good cycle tracks (almost as good as the Finnish ones). I spent 5 years there skating along the cycle tracks knocking out several kilometers at a time.

In 2003 I returned to England and stopped skating, again because I had no where local to skate.
In mid 2009 I moved to Eastbourne. I did not know this at the time but Eastbourne may well be the best place to skate in England. There are 2 very big skating clubs there. There’s a 5K promenade (along the seafront) that’s perfectly skatable with other routes as well. The two clubs also run regular roller discos. During the last year I was there I shared my time between my inlines and quads about 50/50.

It was in the Roller Discos in England I learned these games that I’m writing about.

Since August this year I have been working in Helsinki. When I first arrived I eagerly looked for skating clubs. Needles to say I found Helsinki Roller Derby.  I donned some quads and attended the crash course in September. I instantly decided to become a referee for the league.

So over the last 30 years I have been skating for 9 of them, been reffing for just over 2 months.

The quads I use today I bought 30 years ago. They’re not derby skates, and at 4.5 Kilos they are not the lightest either, but I love them.

If anyone asks me which skates do I prefer, that’s easy it’s the quads.

If I have any regrets, it’s the periods when I did not skate. I wish I’d kept the skating up throughout the 30 year period. I’d be so much better if I had."