Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bouncy Blockers

Alternative names: Bouncy Knockers
Objective: To practice blocking a jammer while being part of a still-standing pack; to practice moving your feet to cover track width without propelling yourself forward or backward
Typical length of drill: Depends on how much time you wish to put down on practicing this maneuver, but I would say you should plan on at least 15 mins
Materials needed: A full track
Skill level required: An understanding of basic strategy and rules
Description: Divide the skaters into groups of four.  All the groups spread out equidistant on the track.  Each group of four stands next to each other in a line, covering as much of the track width as possible while maintaining as tight of a wall-of-four as possible.  A jammer begins to skate around the track while the walls stand still.  Each time the jammer gets to one of these walls the walls' job is to block the jammer while staying in place.  This means that the skaters have to: 1) Keep moving their feet so as not to receive a penalty for standing still while blocking (but trying NOT to move their feet in a way that propels them forward or backward), 2) Stay as a tight wall and not open any doors for the jammer, 3) Consistently move side to side and up and down to cover any spaces that the jammer may try to use to get through the wall.  Once the jammer gets through one wall, s/he moves on to the next.  If your skaters are really good at containing the jammer then add another jammer into the mix (or two or three) so that there is minimal down-time.  Please note that if you have more than 3 or 4 groups of four then you may want to have the jammer gathering some speed by skating outside the track before approaching each of the walls so as to more closely mimic a real-life situation where a jammer arrives at the back of the still-standing pack at a high speed.  OR, have the groups of four take turns being on the track.

Additional notes: Inspired by what seemed to be an effective way to defend during power jams in the 2010 WFTDA Regionals and Championships.  Ever so often there was power jam situation in which the offending team would stop the pack entirely making it extremely difficult for the defending team to block the jammer when she approached the pack at a high speed.  It can be near impossible to block a fast skater when you are going slowly, not to mention, it is illegal to block while standing still.  What to do?  I observed many teams employing this bouncy blockers -technique, where they would put all their available blockers into one wide line at the back of the pack (or sometimes at the front) and they would move their feet and sway side to side in order to keep the jammer from getting by.  With the moving of the feet they were still in motion while blocking, and by standing all in a row in a tight and wide wall, swaying to each side the jammer was attempting to go, they were able to contain the jammer for at least a while (and definitely longer than if they were trying to chase because you will get the 20 ft penalty called on you *extremely* quickly if you're trying to chase a fast jammer out of a still-standing pack).  Although I'm explaining this as moving feet and swaying side to side I would like to point out that the motions of these walls were very bouncy, the blockers were definitely fluid in their movements and using squats and stands where appropriate.  It is obvious that the best teams had practice doing this.

I have not tried this drill myself so please comment and rate when you've tried it yourself, and feel free to suggest variations and additions or subtractions!

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  1. We tried a variation of this.

    First round: two places (middle of the straight) where we put 1 blocker on the track, blocker had to stand still between two 10ft lines

    Second round: two times two blockers who make a wall

    then groups of 3 blockers, (we never tried with 4 blockers, since 3 was almost impossible for the jammers to get throug)

    Sir SkateAlot,
    OLRD Antwerp.

    and then we worked with groups

  2. As well as a really effective way for blockers to learn a lot, this is also a fantastic drill to build confidence in Jammers about approaching a stopped pack at speed, and aiming to get through small gaps without getting called on a back block. Great drill.