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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