Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guest blogging: Brawl-n-Order

All Derby Drills is excited to present our next guest blogger: Brawl-n-Order, Head Coach of State College Area Roller Derby (S.C.A.R. Derby):

"I've always tried to keep myself busy playing sports.  Soccer primarily.  From little league, as a teenager in Germany, a university team, to playing on the weekends, soccer has been the constant.  I've played under a lot of coaches and have taken something from each one of them  From drill sergeants to math teachers, they've all contributed something to my coaching "style".  As the legs grow older and the gut grows bigger I've picked up some other less "intense" sports.  I've been playing racquetball competitively for 10 years now, travelling to tournaments and coaching new players.  I'll do a 5K race every now and then just to prove I can still do it without the help of an ambulance.  And then there's derby.

I can't say I've been a hardcore skater for a long time as some other bloggers here.  Sure I skated when I was a kid.  Everyone did.  I've done the skateboard thing (which lasted a whole 6 months).  Hell I even bought a pair of knock off Roller Blades when they were popular in the mid nineties.  But they were very uncomfortable so that didn't last long.

Fast forward to 2010.  A friend and I were drinking beer one night and we started to talk about Roller Derby.  We found out there was a league in nearby Harrisburg and we made plans to go.  I started to watch some videos of their bouts on YouTube.  Now, being as long in the tooth as I am, I had some preconceived notions about what Derby actually is.  I remember watching it on TV and it was a no-holds-barred free for all of big haired ladies knocking the snot out of each other.  What I found out was totally different.  Where's the banked track?  Rules?  There are rules?  What happened to all the big hits?

A short time later two co-workers found a Craig's List ad about starting a derby league in the area and asked if I could give them a ride to the rink.  No problem.  Maybe I'd get a few free beers out of the deal.  Five people showed up to that first meeting, us three and a married couple.  They asked if I wanted to be a ref.  No problem I said.  They asked if I could skate.  Wait, what?  Ref's have to skate?

That first practice I remember strapping on a pair of quads for the first time since 1986 at the Colorado Springs Skate City.  Or was it 1990 at the Rollaway in Dallas?  Anywho, it had been a VERY long time, but I didn't have as hard a time as I thought I would, and before I knew it I was falling, t-stopping, and baseball sliding with the best of them.

Over the past year and some odd months the league has grown to about 40 skaters.  I've coached the fresh meat, stepped in and coached the "vet's" when the head coach needed me, and tried to cobble together a top notch ref crew.  Recently I've decided to focus primarily on the ref aspect.  Drilling, studying, studying, and drilling.  I believe derby ref's should be the same as hockey ref's in that they should be the best skaters out there.  One thing I've noticed since becoming head ref is there is a significant lack of ref specific drills online.  I've used some from All Derby Drills, Zebra Huddle, and the Yahoo Group, but the bulk of them we've made up.  I want to share these with other leagues and sprinkle some endurance drills in.  Nothing worse than a ref sucking wind trying to keep up with the derbiers he's officiating."

Over the next few weeks Brawl-n-Order will be posting referee drills so invest in your referees and help them become great at their jobs so that you in turn can become great skaters!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where's the Pack? II

Alternative names: Drop It
Objective: This drill teaches pack definition skills and identifying whether skaters are in or out of play.
Typical length of drill: 10 mins at a time
Materials needed: A regulation-sized track.  Cones, ideally wide and flat ones, you can also use paper plates in two different colors if you have, representing the players.  Tape measure.  Volunteers.
Skill level required: None

Description: A group of people (up to 10) skate on the track in a more or less tight pack formation.  Each one is holding one or more cones (representing the players).  On a whistle everyone drops their cone(s) to the the floor.  Now step off the track and look at the cones.  Pick out one or two participants and let them define the pack.  Pick another one and ask, Who is not in the pack, but still in play?  Who is out of play?  And so on.  Use the tape measure to check.  If a cone lands upside down you can go "What if that player is down?"

Advanced version: Add two cones in a third colour representing the jammers.

Additional notes: This drill was submitted to A.D.D. by Riff Reff of the Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz but he does not take the credit for it, he states that he has learned this drill from multiple different people.  I like it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Human Shield Obstacle Course

Alternative names: --
Objective: Team-building; Warm-up; Explosive energy; Agility; Fun
Typical length of drill: 10-15 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just four cones to mark the inside track line; minimum 11 participating skaters
Skill level required: None
Description: In this drill your skaters will make an obstacle course around the track for each other using their bodies.  I'm going to describe how the drill was originally set up by its creator, and then it is up to you to change it so that it suits YOUR needs.  You will need 10 people to volunteer to be the obstacles at the start of the drill, once everyone has gone through the course once you switch the obstacle -persons so that everyone gets to do it at least one time.  Here are the obstacle positions:

  • 2 people balled up on the ground as turtles: You will jump over them
  • 2 people standing next to each other in a wide stance, making a wall with a narrow space in the middle: You will squeeze your way through the space
  • 3 people in a row with legs spread apart widely: You will crawl through the tunnel shaped by their legs
  • 1 person standing really close to the inside line: You will jump/leap along the inside line to get by her/him (AND stay in bounds)
  • 1 person standing at the end of the course waiting to chase you: You will run away from her/him as fast as you can, until you reach the goal line
  • 1 person at the goal line to be the buddy who cheers you on the whole time and high-fives you when you cross it.  After high-fiving the buddy you stay and become the buddy for the next person going through the obstacle course.

    Illustration of the set-up. Click to view larger.

    This is a team-building activity and a self-esteem booster so the cheerleading buddy at the end is a totally necessary part of the course.  It also teaches the skaters how to be supportive of each other, and even helps some of them to come out of their shells.

    CherryF jumps over the turtles

    Coco crawls through the tunnel after she's squozen her way through the wall

    When we do this with our league, many of our skaters choose to wear their knee pads while going through the course because they get so into it that when they dive (literally) into the tunnel they risk injuring themselves.  People really run through this course :)

    Tigre (L) begins to chase Dyna (R) right after she has hopped over Kata (center)

    Even though our version here is pretty condensed (only covers half the track) you could totally spread the people out around the track more, and really make your skaters weave around a lot, and force them to use their agility -- in the photos you might notice that the tunnel is located close to the outside line while the wall and the inside blocker are located close to the inside line.  This adds a little bit more challenge to it.  I also like to imagine a huge league doing this with like 50 skaters, all spread out in crazy ways around the track, making like this really intricate obstacle course that involve motions too, like lots of squats and the person going through the course has to wait for a certain moment in the motion to pass/jump/crawl around/behind/under the obstacle.  Perhaps we should create video game -like levels of this drill with increasing difficulty and obstacles in each level.....?

    Additional notes: This drill was dreamed up by Team Finland's 2011 assistant coach, Tigre Force (pictured above).  By dreamed up I literally mean that she saw it in front of her as she was going to sleep on a warm July evening in 2011.  Tigre Force will do some guest blogging for us very soon and post other awesome drills that she's into.  She's also got a great little blog of her own called Travelling In the Name of Derby where you can read all about her derby excursions and coaching/skating experiences.

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    100 Laps

    In honor of the 100th (!) drill posted on All Derby Drills, we are skating 100 laps together.

    Alternative names: 5 km skate-a-thon
    Objective: To build up endurance
    Typical length of drill: 20 mins
    Materials needed: A WFTDA regulation-size track (or a taped down track that's as close to the measurements as possible, but know that the distance skated might not be accurate in that case)
    Skill level required: None
    Description: The name says it all: Skate 100 laps.  It sounds like a lot but it's really not, and the skaters will feel proud of themselves after this drill for having been able to complete so many laps.  In this drill, all the skaters skate 100 laps around the track, at their own pace.  The skaters are all in charge of counting their own laps, and once they have finished they take a couple of slow cool down laps and then move to the inside of the track to cheer on their teammates.  IMO the best way to do this is to skate 4 x 25 laps, with a short, 30 second water break in between each set of 25 laps.  This helps skaters stay on track with the counting and keeps them hydrated, plus it gives them achievable goals throughout the drill ("I can totally make it to 25 laps, that's no problem" -- makes it easier mentally to complete the challenge).

    If the skaters "skate the diamond" or "the perfect circle" while doing this drill (as in, edging the inside track boundary on the turns and going out to brush the outside track boundary in the middle of the straightway) they will have skated 5.07 km (or 3.15 miles) by the time they finish their 100th lap.

    To avoid injury, you may want to have skaters change direction after 50 laps, or run the rest of your practice in the opposite direction.

    Additional notes: This is my favorite endurance drill at the moment.  It's so nice to just skate and to focus on just one thing for a change, and when we did this recently we had a stereo playing some fun music to skate to and zone out to.  It was challenging and relaxing at the same time.  A skater even thanked me for this drill after we finished.

    I came up with the thought of doing a 100-lap skateathon for a regular practice drill after hearing that a teammate of mine skated 30 km this summer outdoors.  My first thought was "Holy crap! That's crazy awesome!" and then I started to wonder how many km we actually cover in two hours of practice, and how we could probably use an extended skate drill to get skaters on our league to realize that 30 km is an achievable goal (and then we could ALL be crazy awesome).  We all know how to sprint for minimum 25 laps to do well in time trials, so why shouldn't we be able to skate 100 laps in 20 minutes at a normal skating pace?  Thus the 100 Laps -drill was born.  And I've since found out that many leagues have a habit of skating 60-70 laps just for warm-ups so hell, 100 laps is a piece of cake :) and it's a good building block towards being able to skate 30 km in one sitting.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Bus Ride

    Alternative names: Finnish Bus Ride
    Objective: Conditioning, staying focused, speed control, skating in a low derby stance
    Typical length of drill: 10-15 mins
    Materials needed: A full track or just a few cones to mark the inside track line, + four cones to use as bus stops
    Skill level required: None

    Description: Start by setting up your four bus stops on the outside of the track – one cone at each apex and one cone at the very middle of every straightaway.  The skaters split into four equal groups and each group stands at a bus stop when the drill begins.  The coach begins as the bus driver (and it's up to you if you want to stick to one bus driver the whole time or switch it up and have a few of the skaters act as bus drivers too) and the drill starts when the bus driver begins skating around the track.  Naturally, s/he is “sitting” in her/his “chair” as s/he is driving the bus around the track.  The skaters at the bus stops can now start hailing the bus by sticking their arm out.  When the bus driver stops the bus in front of a bus stop the skaters who are at that bus stop can choose to get on the bus or to wait a little bit longer (in this drill the skaters themselves get to decide for how long they will be sitting on the bus).  When the skaters get on the bus they “take a seat” (meaning, they get into the 90° angle squat position, as if actually sitting in a chair) behind the bus driver, two people always next to each other so that there is a double line behind the driver.  Once the passengers are on the bus the bus begins driving.  Everyone on the bus follows the bus driver, whatever she does.  If she comes to another bus stop where other passengers want to get on, the whole bus has to slow down and come to a stop.  If the bus driver speeds up, the whole bus has to speed up.  If the bus driver has to navigate through multiple lanes of traffic, the whole bus has to do so.  The bus driver is in charge and gets to decide what obstacles the bus encounters and at what times, her/his job is to call them out to the rest of the passengers so that they know what to do.  Here are suggestions for the many different things that the bus can do during the bus ride:

    • Driving through a tunnel – Everyone squats really really super low so as not to hit the ceiling of the tunnel
    • Debris in the road – Everyone jumps over the debris
    • Pedestrians or road kill – The bus has to weave around the pedestrians or the road kill
    • Local roads – The bus goes really slowly
    • Highway – The bus speeds up and goes really fast
    • A tree in the middle of the road – Everyone splits up so as to make room for the tree to go through the middle of the bus and then everyone immediately comes together again
    • A group of children crossing the street – Everyone weaves around like mad making sure not to hit any of the children in the middle of the road
    • Red light / Green light – When the light turns red the bus comes to a halt.  When the light goes green again the bus takes off.

    If passengers wish to get off the bus because they feel they can't “stay seated” any longer, they say the word “Pling!” nice and loud so that the bus driver hears them, and then the bus pulls over at the next stop.  At this point anyone who wishes to exit the bus may do so.  I like to tell skaters before doing this drill that when they start feeling like they want to get off the bus because they can't squat any longer, they should try to push themselves to one more bus stop and THEN press the button so that they get that extra benefit of pushing themselves just a little bit further.

    An illustrated example of the Bus Ride -drill.  Click the image to view it larger.
    I usually end with 5 laps of highway at which time no one is allowed to get on or off the bus (I mean really, how often do you see bus stops on the highway?) so I warn the skaters that it's about to come up in case they want to get back on the bus before it's too late.

    If you are lucky and have an off-skates assistant, you can ask this person to throw or place cones (or other things) onto the track in the path of the bus so that all the skaters have concrete obstacles to weave around.  If you have multiple off-skates people at practice you can ask them to be physical pedestrians or road kill or school children for the bus to navigate around.

    Additional notes:  I came up with this drill in the spring when I wanted to have a fun drill that felt like a game but also gave our thigh muscles a good workout while at the same time forcing us to practice skating nice and low.  I've done this a few times with a few different groups and it has always been well received.  Because it's a short-ish drill (very effective even if you do it for only 10 minutes) it's also a really great filler – you can plug it in to any small spaces that you may have leftover in your practice schedule.  I like to do this at the end of practice because it's a fun way to end the day, but I've also been known to start practice with this (after regular warm-ups) to get everyone to squat low from the very beginning.  This is a good drill to help skaters who skate too upright.

    Feel free to suggest your own fun bus obstacles in the comments -section below!  I know you've got some :)

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Two-Point Touch

    Alternative names: --
    Objective: To practice touching each other as much as possible; to practice effective blocking while going slow; to practice using each others' bodies and senses on the track; to practice team-blocking; to practice communication
    Typical length of drill: 15 mins
    Materials needed: A WFTDA regulation-size track (or a taped down track that's as close to the measurements as possible)
    Skill level required: None, though some skaters may want to use contact in this drill

    Description: In this drill skaters will go in groups of three onto the track and work together to block one opponent.  Start by getting all of your skaters into four lines.  Three of the lines are for blockers, and the last line is for the opponent.  The first skater from each blocker line will get onto the track and form a tight-knit group of blockers, and the first skater from the opponent line will start just slightly behind the blockers and try to get by them.  The blockers have one lap in which to work hard to block the opponent and really slow her down.  When the lap is complete they get back into line, making sure that they practice team-blocking 3 out of 4 times, and that they act as the opponent 1 out of 4 times (hence the four lines).  The main idea of this drill is that while they are blocking they should be constantly touching -- a minimum of two points of each blockers' body needs to always be touching another skater.  That could mean you touching someone with both hands, someone else touching you with both hands, or one person touching you with one hand while you touch someone else with your other hand.  Either way, two points on your body should always be touching another blocker.  The blockers are also to use each other, use each others' bodies, and use each others' senses.  That could mean pushing your body off another skater (while remaining in contact with them), holding on to another skater's hips and acting as the group booty while said person is acting as the eyes forward, pushing a teammate's body into the way of the opponent (while still remaining in contact with them, of course) -- basically you use each other and thus all together become one super-human (or super-blocker, really).  While touching each other and using each others' bodies, verbal communication is key.  The blockers should be constantly telling each other where the opponent is and what direction they are going in.  When skaters practice using both verbal and physical communication at the same time like this, it really improves their teamwork and team-blocking skills.

    An illustration of the Two-Point Touch drill.  Click the image to view it larger.

    I like to tell all the skaters before we begin that this is a blocker drill, NOT a jammer drill, that when you act as the opponent make it challenging for your teammates but not impossible.  Everyone should be learning how to team-block and get an opportunity to practice this skill thoroughly.

    Then, after we've done this for about 5-10 mins and I see that everyone is getting it and is doing a good job, I tell the skaters that when they play the part of the opponent they should go all out and really make the blockers work for it.  Since you will encounter amazing opponents in your inter-league games it is imperative that you use practice-time to actually practice playing against people who give you a good run for your money.

    Photo by Sean Murphy
    Photo by Sean Murphy
    Here Team Finland is using this drill in actual game-play against Team Sweden, successfully holding back the Swedish jammer.  Notice how all four blockers are touching a teammate with at least two points of their bodies (including a boob hold in the first picture, tehee).

    Additional notes: This is by far my favorite drill at the moment.  I came up with this after seeing the London Rollergirls play against the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls in London a few months ago.  I noticed how extremely effective RMRG was at keeping the LRG jammer or goat behind them by getting into a tight group of three + blockers who just constantly were touching and grabbing and pulling and using each other.  I have always been taught and known the importance of touching in derby, but RMRG's display of touching was really what drove home the point for me.  I can honestly say that after the first time we did this drill we immediately saw improvement in the next scrimmage/pre-gaming drill.  And after having done this (and variations of it) a few times now, our teamwork has progressed tremendously.  Though this drill highlights team-blocking while going slowly, the skills learned apply to fast derby as well, and what we learned going slowly in this drill has helped our fast game a great deal too.

    Finally I would also like to suggest that after completing this drill (or after you've completing a few rounds of it) you ask everyone how they felt when they were playing the part of the opponent.  Was it frustrating?  What parts of the body did they have to use to try to get by?  Leagues who do not practice a lot of team-blocking will be surprised by how effective constant touching, grabbing and pulling is, and how much more difficult it becomes to get through the pack when the opponents are really good at team-blocking.  I also like to ask my blockers how they felt doing this, what they felt as they were going through this drill.  It really can be an eye-opener for some.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Red Light / Green Light

    Alternative names: none
    Objective: To work on starting, stopping, and attentiveness
    Typical length of drill: However long you want
    Materials needed: an open skating space
    Skill level required: ability to stop in any form / ability to control speed in a pack
    Description: This drill is an old roller rink open skate stand by!

    Anyone who has skated an open skate, at least at a rink in the U.S., has probably played this game in its most basic form. All players line up at one end of the "rink" touching the opposing wall from the caller or the "goal".

    There is one person who "calls" the game. When the caller says "green light" the skaters may skate. When the caller says "red light" the skaters must cease all movement. Skaters need to freeze in place. Even moving the arms or falling over after the words "red light" are spoken are considered moving. All skaters who move after the words "red light" must return to the beginning and start over.

    The caller is prone to say things other than "green light." Some of my favorites are "green tomatoes", "green thumbs", "purple people eaters." They can also say things other than "red light". You get the idea. Only the words "green light" release the players from their frozen states.

    How quickly someone freezes on hearing "red light" is somewhat subjective. I like to institute a count of "one one thousand two" but your mileage may vary.

    The first skater to pass the end zone (a line or the caller) wins. This encourages speed in skating.

    Making it a Pack Drill

    Group skaters into packs of 2 to 4 and make the pack responsible for starting and stopping appropriately. Creating interdependence in the game makes it more advanced.

    Additional notes:

    Coaching notes
    Do not underestimate the power of awareness games to improve the mental acuity of skaters! We know in real bouts being able to quickly process whether a referee blew a whistle (it's a major I go to the box) or just shouted color/number/penalty (it's a minor, keep skating) can make a difference in being there for the play at hand. That's not all. Skaters are always having to quantify and qualify what's going on around them in bouts.

    I like to use the original roller rink game for fresh meat who are just learning to stop. It is difficult to encourage skaters to actually get some speed when learning to stop. This game rewards speed and fast, controlled stopping.

    Modify this game all you want. Make all skaters go backward. Make them change directions each time they restart. Make them keep all 8 on the floor. Whatever you're working on you can integrate into this game.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Six Stride Hell

    Alternative names: --
    Objective: Work on acceleration from pack speed
    Typical length of drill: 5-10 minutes
    Materials needed: a skating surface
    Skill level required: cross overs and the ability to skate on one leg in corners and straight aways (to be effective)
    Description: Have all skaters on "the track" skating at their own "pack speed" spaced out randomly around the track.

    On the whistle, all skaters take six hard, fast sprint steps from wherever they are then return to normal skating. Repeat whistle randomly for drill length. 

    Additional notes: Generally at Pioneer Valley we use this as an ending drill, something to bring the heart rate back up, before skating a few laps to cool down and stretch.

    This could be used as a pack drill to get teams of people used to speeding up and slowing down together.

    While everyone is on the track, this is a drill about individual performance. Skaters should have a sense of urgency to skate the hardest and fastest six strides they can on that whistle. If it's 5 or 7 it's not a failure. The point is to begin the sprint from wherever you are and handle it through people also on the track.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Reverse Fire Drill

    Alternative names: None (weaving / pace line variant)
    Objective: 360 degree awareness, upper body flexibility, pacing, weaving, trust, c-cuts
    Typical length of drill: 5 minutes or however long it takes
    Materials needed: One passable object per approximately 8 skaters (Nerf balls recommended)
    Skill level required: Generally people who are ready for contact have the skills needed for this drill
    Description: This is an intermediate weaving or pace line.

    As with the Squeezebox, I use this as a warm up drill when we will use drills later in practice which build on the skills. This would include blocking/hitting from the front, pack awareness, game awareness, pacing, and lateral movement. This drill moves the balls in the opposite direction of the Fire Drill. Skaters should already be familiar with and skilled at skating in a weaving or pace line.

    All skaters line up in a single pace line about two arm lengths apart. The activity of the drill will enforce this.

    Distribute Nerf balls through the line about one for every eight skaters. You can use other objects as well. For advanced skaters, weighted medicine balls work. Other objects could be stuffed animals, shoes, swim noodles, cones, other balls. I prefer Nerf balls with new skaters because they are easy to see and they are easy to grab with wrist guards.

    As the pace line starts, the balls are passed forward. This requires skaters at the front of the line to be constantly looking back to know where the balls are in the pace line. Once a ball reaches the front of the line, the skater takes the ball and weaves backward through the line. On reaching the back of the line, they pass their ball forward and the drill repeats from there.

    If a skater can tag the back of the skater in front of them without the front skater knowing the ball is there, the tagged (front) skater must leave the line and complete some activity, I usually require 10 push ups, then return to the line.

    Additional notes:
    After we started doing the Fire Drill at Pioneer Valley, it was simply a matter of my natural habit to always see if we can do something backward from the way we do it forward. Thus this drill was born. As with many things, this drill is a little more difficult than it is in the "forward" direction.

    Coaching Notes
    Encourage skaters to reach back for the balls in both the right and left directions.

    Make sure skaters are making eye contact with the person behind them as they receive the ball. Encourage skaters to turn at the waist and to pass the ball, not throw it.

    As a coach, intermittently I will remind the group to know where all the balls are, to remind them to look around. Be specific! If I have a green and two yellow Nerf balls in the line, I'll say "where are the yellow balls?" or "who is carrying the green ball?" The activity of having to look for something, identify it, and observe it's current process will help skaters learn the mental skills of judging and processing time passage on the track.

    Especially when working with new skaters, encourage them to be in the right position at the right time. If they've fallen behind when receiving the ball because they haven't continued skating while reaching back, they'll have to catch up to the skater in front of them to hand the ball off. Use this as a learning opportunity of illustrating the need to be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there and also to keep skating when looking behind you. Skaters cannot forfeit one activity (keeping up with the pace line - aka keeping up with the pack) for another (reaching back for a pass - aka giving a teammate whip).

    Skaters in line must be told to keep their line and to keep it straight. Early feedback in developing this drill is that the skater weaving back must be able to feel they can trust their line to be where it's supposed to be when it's supposed to be there. Newer skaters will have a tendency to flinch and try to get out of the weaver's way. Ultimately that will lead to crashes, so this should be kept to skaters cleared for contact. This is a great opportunity to teach this pack skill - stay where you're supposed to be and skate in a way your team can predict where you'll be.

    Encourage people to keep up with the line. Newer skaters will also tend to slow to allow the weaving skater to go in front of them. This creates bad habits. If a weaver misses a spot, they should go for the next one. Skaters should keep pack pace.

    Pre-instruction on how to weave includes the following tips:

    • Be looking back over your shoulder closest to the line as you weave
    • As you're crossing through the line, you should already be shifting your weight to skate back through the next gap
    • You do not actually skate backward, the pace line is simply moving in the forward direction faster than the weaver
    • You are not moving slower than the weaving line, you're actually moving faster - laterally. This makes your forward movement slower than the pace line.
    • Recognize this weaving movement is the precursor to blocking and hitting from a forward vantage point
    • Trust your line to move as it should
    • If weaving is too easy, then jump/hop through the line
    • Always anticipate your next move
    This drill works well in both derby and non-derby direction. I usually run this drill for half the time or at least one full cycle of the line in derby direction, then lead the group in a figure 8 to reverse direction and run it again or the remainder of the time.

    Participants may be split into lines of appropriate speed keeping the faster line to the outside and the slower line to the inside. At Pioneer Valley, we have 10' markers that are only about 2-3' wide. For a single line, the line must stay over those markers. For two lines, the inside line stays between the inside track boundary and the inside of the markers while the outside line stays between the outside of the markers and the outside track boundary.

    Side Note
    While you have balls out on the track, an added benefit we have at our practices is we throw the balls around while doing warm up or cool down laps. This is not a pace line thing and is helpful for all levels of skaters.
    • Develops hand eye coordination
    • Develops a sense of learning to aim for where someone will be (especially with slow Nerf balls) not where they are
    • Takes attention away from the activity of skating and helps skaters gain comfort on their feet
    • Encourages sub-conscious speeding up and slowing down to catch the ball
    • Encourages full track awareness (Where are the balls? Is one being thrown to me?)
    • Helps skaters learn to get low to pick up dropped balls at speed

    Fire Drill

    Alternative names: None (weaving / pace line variant)
    Objective: Learn the basics of a pace line while using some basic upper body movement
    Typical length of drill: 5 minutes
    Materials needed: One passable object per approximately 8 skaters (Nerf balls recommended)
    Skill level required: none
    Description: This is a very basic weaving line or, as some might call it, pace line.

    I use this drill with the freshest of fresh meat as soon as they are able to skate well enough to keep up with a line, pass someone, and weave between two people.

    All skaters line up in a single pace line about two arm lengths apart. The activity of the drill will enforce this.

    Distribute Nerf balls through the line about one for every eight skaters. You can use other objects as well. For advanced skaters, weighted medicine balls work. Other objects could be stuffed animals, shoes, swim noodles, cones, other balls. I prefer Nerf balls with new skaters because they are easy to see and they are easy to grab with wrist guards - something new skaters are just getting used to.

    As the pace line starts, the balls are passed backward. This stimulates the activity of turning and looking backward while skating forward. It also enforces the pace line spacing without skaters having to think about it too much. Once a ball reaches the back of the line, the skater takes the ball and weaves forward to the front of the line. On reaching the front of the line, they pass their ball back and the drill repeats from there.

    Additional notes:
    The name, Fire Drill, should be fairly obvious since it is basically a bucket brigade. I believe this was a Pioneer Valley invention because I brought our coaching kit that I made with the Hellions to PVRD and we were looking for something to do with the Nerf balls on a skills practice night. I had bought the Nerf balls to play Dodge Ball on skates (will write that up as a drill soon). If memory serves, it was Pink Panzer who came up with the idea to do this.

    While this is a drill designed to help brand new derby skaters grasp the pacing concepts of a weaving line without barking orders at them, this can be used for more advanced skaters as a part of a dynamic warm up routine. Add other dynamic stretches to this for a nice, easy warm up that keeps the mind active and alert while skating as a team.

    Coaching Notes
    Encourage skaters to pass the balls back in both the right and left directions.

    Make sure skaters are making eye contact with the person behind them as they pass the ball. Encourage skaters to turn at the waist and to pass the ball, not throw it.

    Especially when working with new skaters, encourage them to be in the right position at the right time. If they've fallen behind when the person in front of them is trying to pass the ball back and now they have to catch up, use this as a learning opportunity of illustrating the need to be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there.

    Brand new skaters will get a bit nervous when weaving through the same space as a ball passing backward. They'll get over it.

    This drill works in both the derby direction and non-derby direction. I usually run it through in one direction for half the time, then have the line follow a figure 8 to reverse direction and repeat it in the reverse direction.

    Side Note
    While you have balls out on the track, an added benefit we have at our practices is we throw the balls around while doing warm up or cool down laps. This is not a pace line thing and is helpful for all levels of skaters.

    • Develops hand eye coordination
    • Develops a sense of learning to aim for where someone will be (especially with slow Nerf balls) not where they are
    • Takes attention away from the activity of skating and helps skaters gain comfort on their feet
    • Encourages sub-conscious speeding up and slowing down to catch the ball
    • Encourages full track awareness (Where are the balls? Is one being thrown to me?)
    • Helps skaters learn to get low to pick up dropped balls at speed

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Pack Blood & Thunder

    Alternative names: Blood & Thunder, Queen of the Rink
    Objective: Fun, hitting, pack awareness
    Typical length of drill: 5 to 15 minutes
    Materials needed: a marked derby track or similar
    Skill level required: contact eligible
    Description: Like Blood & Thunder or Queen of the Rink, this is a "last skater standing" game.

    All skaters get on the track between the jammer and pivot lines. At the whistle all legal contact is allowed between skaters. In addition to being removed from the game if you fall down or step out of bounds, you are also removed from the game if you are out of play. Generally OOP is considered to be 20' from the bulk of skaters, but as the game winds down to the last few, it is reduced to 10'.

    Coaching Notes 

    Help skaters recognize when "opportunity blocks" are happening on the track.

    • Did a skater not quite fall or go down from that last hit? Can I take the next hit and complete someone else's attempt?
    • Is there a skater not paying attention because they just hit someone else down or out that I can put down?
    • Is there a skater who is going for a big hit that I might be able to use their momentum to take that skater and their target out by following behind?
    Help skaters recognize block avoidance tactics
        • Maintaining a front of pack but in play position is often the least likely spot to be engaged. Encourage newer skaters to stay there.
        • Would disengaging from this skater allow for the hitting skater to continue down or out of bounds while the receiving skater would stay up and in bounds?
        • Point out when people have been taken out because they weren't paying attention behind them or were too proud of their last hit (B&T can be a humbling game)

        All legal hits include

        • Hitting with legal blocking zones
        • Hitting to legal target zones
        • Hitting while stepping or skating in derby direction
        • Hitting while within 20' of "the pack"
        • Pushing and leaning

        As the game winds down to fewer skaters, implement a "shot clock" of 3 to 5 seconds. Have everyone not playing count "ONE one thousand, TWO one thousand..."

        Keep the games moving along. Encourage alliances on the track, especially to make sure the last round's winner does not win again.

        Additional notes: This pack modification was introduced to the game I play by my derby wife, Will Jettison, when he was coaching the Hellions of Troy back in 2008. We quickly found it made the game more derby-like and used more derby skills while not reinforcing bad derby habits like skating away from the pack. In traditional Blood & Thunder, it can quickly become a game of speed and avoidance.

        At Pioneer Valley Roller Derby, where we typically have 30 to 45 skaters at practice, we divide up into three groups, run each group until we're down to 3 skaters, then have a final match of the top 3 from each round. I would recommend packs of no more than 15 skaters.

        Monday, September 19, 2011


        Alternative names: None, but this is a waterfall or cycling drill
        Objective: To practice waterfalling and communication while programming a sense of track space.
        Typical length of drill: 5 minutes
        Materials needed: One derby track. A clear inside line is critical while the outside could be cones. This makes this an excellent spatial drill for teams that practice in spaces smaller than a full size track like a gymnasium.
        Skill level required: None
        I like to use this waterfall drill as a warm up, then expand on it later in the practice session and use drills which emphasize the motions of the Squeezebox.

        I'll describe the motions of this drill, but here's a small Flash video to demonstrate how it works.

        Divide your skaters into groups of three (3). You can have as many groups of 3 doing this on the track at the same time as you require. If your group is not divisible by 3, then a group of 4 or a group of 2 may happen and that's fine - the fundamentals are the same. I've seen this work with over 60 people on the track at once, so use this for your mixed skills practice or to warm up for travel team - it's all the same.

        The key of this drill is that each member of the group of three needs to know and practice what they should be doing at each key point on the track.

        On the Straightaways:
        The inside skater needs to be covering the inside line
        The other two skaters are spreading wide over the track covering as much width as possible and using eyes and finger tips to keep in communication, ready to move as needed (pretending a bout situation)

        Approaching the odd corner:
        The wall begins to contract. The middle skater communicates with the inside skater they will have the inside line covered by the apex. The outside skater comes in closer to the middle skater. The inside skater begins to move ahead of the pack.

        The inside skater moving faster is a natural occurrence with skating a smaller circle. It is also going to be easier to cover that tight inside corner with a 12.5' radius with two different skaters - one that leaves it and one that pulls in from outside, effectively making it a wider circle to defend.

        At the apex:
        The inside skater has now fully moved ahead of her teammates. She may receive a small whip or push from the previously middle skater to move straight toward the outside on the even corner. The middle skater has moved to the inside and the outside skater stays tight in that corner moving to the middle and being prepared to defend anywhere on the track coming out of the corner.

        Leaving the even corner:
        Skaters have shuffled now and should come out of the corner nearly together. All skaters will make minor adjustments in their speed and may assist each other to even up and remember to begin the expansion over the straight away.

        If you watch the video or do this drill, you'll find this is the most efficient use of the track distance by a group of three skaters. Over the course of every lap and a half, each skater has traveled the same distance. Speed is not critical here. Skaters should skate in their walls at a comfortable pace. Movement, positioning, and communication are more important than "keeping up".

        Adding a few "jammers" to the mix to try to get around the Squeezebox walls while following the Squeezebox pattern will emphasize how it is okay to move off the line so long as it's covered and will reinforce the need for constant communication. Encourage Squeezebox skaters to block while keeping with the Squeezebox pattern. The inside skater leaving the inside line does not have to go in front, she may go in back with blocking a jammer, but must end up in the outside position.

        Additional notes:
        Purpose and Intent:
        This is a drill I developed with Ballistic Miss L of Pioneer Valley Roller Derby. We combined a cycling drill she had learned from another league with a wall drill I had learned from another league. At first we called this the Accordion Drill, based on the expanding and contracting nature of the wall. After our first attempt, with it being a successful drill, we renamed it Squeezebox for notoriety. What I love about this drill is it is a strategy drill disguised as a warm-up drill.

        I use this drill whenever I'm teaching teamwork and strategy as a guest coach. For me this is fundamental use of track space with a wall. It encompasses all wall components:

        • Cover the inside line
        • Communicate between skaters
        • Learn communication styles as a skater and coach
        • Effectively and efficiently cover the width of the track
        • Helps build muscle memory and awareness of the playing space
        • Creates multi-skater defense opportunities on all areas of the track
        • Focuses the mind and energy to the competition space
        Coaching notes:
        Frequently the straightaways are where skaters get lazy. Skaters often need to be reminded to keep the inside covered and to expand wide across the track in this section. Remind skaters to not throw away this 35' of track in anticipation of the upcoming corner.

        Encourage strong, positive communication as the middle skater covers the inside line and the inside skater leaves it. This can be physical or verbal, but in real bout situations, we need to know someone will be there before we leave that line. Do not let the repetitive nature of this drill get comfortable and shortcut the communication.

        Inside skaters moving to outside from the apex generally should skate straight to the outside of the track. Ultimately they want the shortest distance around this modified oval and to spill the speed they had from inside. If skaters aren't understanding this move, encourage them to envision that jammer who has chosen an outside path around the corner and picking them off at the widest point where they have to convert from turning to straight is the easiest spot to cut them off or hit them.

        Assists to move off the inside line and to keep the wall tight between all skaters coming out of the corner are encouraged. Keep in mind, however, this is not a drill focused on assists! Plus, the middle-becoming-inside skater might push the inside-becoming-outside skater as much slow her self down to stay on the line as to help the skater move out. It's okay for the inside-now-outside skater to reach back and assist the outside-now-middle skater to come up with the wall. Assists given should be gentle adjustments and tactile communication, not huge transfers of energy. The natural speed of a skater on the track should take care of most positioning.

        For Referees:
        Referees who choose not to participate in this drill in the walls, should be encouraged to follow some of the walls from an inside pack or outside pack POV and watch for multi-player blocks and skates going over the boundaries. I would encourage referees to participate in referee groups. The communication of moving around and switching places in tight corners is something I use when I referee on the inside (jam, head, pack). But if they're not comfortable doing so, taking on the challenge of observing as a referee is acceptable as well.

        Guest blogging: Bitches Bruze

        Bitches Bruze #802
        A.D.D.'s next gues blogger is Bitches Bruze of Pioneer Valley Roller Derby, the first league in the U.S.A. to have both a women's and a men's team.  Her bout of guest blogging will be "Back to Basics with Bitches - drills for bringing your team together through basic skating and position skills."

        For Bitches Bruze, skating became a part of her life as a little girl and on up through the sneaker skates of the 1980s. In 1985 she was awarded the University of Florida Choir’s award for “Soprano on Wheels” a result of roller skating to every class on campus, and right up to her chair as first soprano three times a week. She traded in those sneaker skates for roller blades in 1990 and, finding inlines to have no soul, hung up her wheels. Fifteen years later, looking for a team sport to stay in shape, she found roller derby through a Wikipedia search and her derby career has been filled with many exciting twists and turns.
        “I’ve never been your traditional athlete,” says Bitches. “I have a deformity in my right knee which makes speed in skating or running difficult. But I have a lot of strength in my legs and upper body. In high school, I stuck with things like playing goalie on the varsity field hockey team, long jump, triple jump, discus, and shot put. I was also into drama club, writing, and the only freshman on the math league. Really, my derby career reflects that same kind of all around, involved in everything kind of skater.”
        For Bitches, the complexity of a sport that involves simultaneous offense and defense ignites her love of game and strategy. “This sport really requires amazing all-around athleticism and a sharp, observant mind. For all intents and purposes, roller derby can be classified as a ‘war game’ – and it’s full contact and on wheels.”
        In order to better learn and understand the game, Bitches began early in her career getting involved with every aspect of the game. Since she started in the summer of 2007, she has filled every single role in a bout – from skater, head referee, videographer, announcer and every NSO position (except score keeper). She’s worked more than 150 bouts and been on roster for more than 50 bouts. “There isn’t an aspect of working a bout, even outside white board, that doesn’t give a skater a new, more involved, look at the game.”
        Outside derby, Bitches teaches computer programming and applications at the Community College of Vermont in Bennington, Vermont. “I love teaching. I’ve done so many things in my life and to bring ideas and skills to people is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.” For fun, Bitches and her husband (who is also now her derby wife), Will Jettison (of the Dirty Dozen) like sailing and pioneering. When they aren’t traveling to some bout somewhere, you’ll either find the two of them on a lake with sails up, or cutting down trees and milling them into posts and beams for their house.
        Bitches is available for guest coaching and specializes in bringing drills and strategy to teams and leagues in their second year of derby who are looking for cohesion and that next level of play which gets into the complexities of flat track derby. You can learn more about Bitches’ approach on her blog or visiting her on Facebook
        Welcome Bitches Bruze!

        Wednesday, August 24, 2011

        Fight for the Front

        Alternative names: --
        Objective: To practice controlling the front of the pack and taking control of the front of the pack; to practice speed control; to learn basic strategy
        Typical length of drill: 10-20 mins
        Materials needed: A WFTDA regulation-size track (or a taped down track that's as close to the measurements as possible); pinnies/vests or two different colored shirts on your skaters for teaming purposes
        Skill level required: None if you choose to make it a non-contact drill

        Description: Split your skaters into two teams using pinnies, vests, or different colored shirts.  Have four blockers from each team skate around the track in a pack.  Each time you blow the whistle one of the teams of blockers fights their way to the front of the pack where they can then control the speed of the pack and/or block the opposing blockers from getting up there.  Repeat this multiple times so that both teams get many chances to try to get to the front.  If you wish to make this a bit more challenging, add a pace-setter who skates a few meters in front of the pack so that the blockers have a smaller space in which to try and take control of the front, and so that they have to use speed control and awareness.

        This drill can be played in bigger groups as well, you don't neccessarily have to have just two teams of four blockers on the track playing against each other.  It can be quite fun as a 10-on-10 game as well.

        Additional notes: I honestly can't remember where I learned this but I'm under the impression that it's quite a common drill among derby leagues all over and I've seen this (and many fun variations of it) practiced and mentioned in multiple different places.  This is a really fun, and a really useful drill.  It's one of those drills that you can also use as filler because the time can be conformed to whatever you have left at practice.  In addition, this is a good way to introduce new skaters to basic roller derby strategies.

        Wednesday, August 10, 2011

        Dynamic stretching: Drop Lunge

        Alternative names: --
        Objective: "To improve flexibility in your hips, glutes, and iliotibal (IT) bands -- thick bands of tissue in either leg that extend from the thigh down over the outside of the knee and attach to the tibia (the larger lower-leg bone)." (1)
        Typical length of drill: 3 mins
        Materials needed: None
        Skill level required: None
        Description: "A proper warm-up routine is very important to the health and performance of an athlete. If the body is not adequately prepared for the demands of the upcoming sport or activity, injury is more likely to occur.  In addition, it is impossible for the body to perform to the peak of its ability without warm, flexible muscles. ... Dynamic warm-ups can increase muscular flexibility for the short-term through the neuromuscular system and potentially reduce injury though decreasing reflexive muscle contractions." (Dynamic Flexibility vs. Static Stretching for Warm Up, Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy)

        Drop Lunge

        Starting position: Stand balanced with your arms extended.

        Procedure: Turn your hips to the left and reach back with your left foot until it's about 2 feet to the ouside of your right foot, your left toes poiting to your right heel.  Rotate your hips back so they're facing forward again and square with your shoulders and feet.  You want your chest up and tummy tight, and the majority of your weight on your right leg.  Drop into a full squat by pushing your hips back and down, keeping your right heel on the ground. Now drive hard off your right leg, stand back up, and repeat, moving to your right for the allotted number of reps.  Switch legs.  Return to the left.
        Bambi CrushBone, #13. By Marko Niemelä

        Coaching key(s): Turn your hips to drop your leg behind.  Keep your toes pointed straight, with the back toe to the front heel.

        You should feel: A stretch in your hips, glutes, and IT bands.
        Bambi CrushBone, #13. By Marko Niemelä.
        Additional notes: All text from Core Performance by Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams (1) unless otherwise noted.  This is part of a series of dynamic stretches that we have been posting over the last few months.  Click on Stretching in the column on the right to see the other dynamic stretches in this series.  If dynamic stretching interests you, the most recent issue of Blood & Thunder Magazine just published a 2-page column called "Shirley's Plan" by Shirley N. Sane, covering the topic and suggesting a few different exercises as well.

        Thursday, August 4, 2011

        The Game's Behind You!

        The Game's Behind You!

        Alternative names: "We've Got One!"/ "Time Ticking Away"

        Objective: Help your Jammer score by bringing the pack to her (aka-slow down the pack speed to the pace of a trickle so that your Jammer has less distance to skate when lapping the pack). If it is more challenging for your Lead Jammer to catch up to the pack than it is for her to get through the pack, your team is probably not scoring as many points as it could when you gain Lead Jammer status or when your team has a Power Jam in your favor.

        In derby, when we say, "get a goat!" we mean trap at least one Opposing Blocker and pull her away from her team by slowing her down. One reason a team would want to get a goat (if skating under the WFTDA rule set) is so that they can then qualify as the pack- (the largest group of Blockers, skating in proximity (within 10 feet of the nearest skater), containing member from both teams). When you control the pack you essentially have control of the jam.

        I remember the first time this concept showed up in games I was playing. My team was playing under a new rule set- WORD (what banked track skaters play under for tournaments) and we had never incorporated grabbing a goat because our home rules simply had a different way of defining the pack. We had our ass handed to us during that game because we simply did not know what to do when getting goated. The other team controlled the entire game. Understanding why we try to get goats and actually getting a goat are two different things. By mid-game my team understood the concept (thanks to the school of hard knocks) but we were unable to turn around and do it to our opponents simply because we had never practiced the tactic. That's why we need to practice most concepts and strategies over and over so that we can implement them on game day.

        After reading the following description close your eyes and try to imagine it. It's the last jam of your Championship game and your team is down 2 points. Neither team has anymore timeouts, so this will most likely be the last jam of the game. 45 seconds into the Jam your team finally got your Jammer out of the pack. Your team is skating fast in the attempt to keep the Opposing Jammer in the pack, everyone's recycling and skating fast. Your Jammer skates and skates, but it's the end of the game and she has about 5% of her energy left.

        Time is ticking away! The Jam Clock is approaching 30 seconds left until the jam ends. Your Jammer can't catch the pack. If she can't catch the pack she can't score.

        How can you slow down the speed of the pack? Is there a weaker skater in the back of the pack? Can you pull her away from her team and slow her down to a trickle? What can you do to contain her? Your Jammer only needs to score 3 points for your team to win the game. Once you get a goat from the other team, if you can put more than 20 feet between the foremost pack skater and the Opposing Blockers the goat you have is worth not only 1 point, but is also worth all of her teammates points who are skating out of the Engagement Zone. What

        Read rule 8.5. It discusses ghost points. You probably know that as soon as a Jammer passes an Opposing Blocker, she gets a point for each Opponent that is sitting in the box (rule 8.5.1). Did you know that if a Blocker chooses to skate further than 20 feet in front of the foremost pack skater that she too relinquishes her point (rule 8.5.3, If a Jammer is on a scoring pass and her most fierce opponents are in the jam, wouldn't it be great if she could get their points without having to pass them? If you grab a goat, and contain your goat so well that her teammates keep skating and skating and eventually leave the legal Engagement Zone putting themselves out of play- your Jammer can score their points as soon as she passes their teammate who is in the pack and calls it off while they are still outside of the the Engagement Zone/ Out of Play. That's pretty awesome if you ask me.

        Below you will find a combination of two drills:"The Game's Behind You" and "Time Ticking Away," a timed drill that encourages intensity and urgency. TTA can be used in so many ways and in combination with many different drills. Basically take a concept and time the amount of time that it takes to put it into effect or to carry it out. For example, if you're practicing gaining Lead Jammer Status, only give the Jammer 30 seconds to achieve Lead Jammer. Once your Jammers are able to gain LJS in 30 seconds, shave off 5 seconds and only give them 25 seconds. Keep shaving off time so that finally they can get Lead in 5 seconds.

        The scenario above that I asked you to imagine happens often, so why not prepare for it? The better prepared team is usually the team that comes out on the good side of rule 2.2.2. Wouldn't you like to be that team?

        Typical length of drill: However long you want to practice the concept.
        Materials needed: 2 timers, jammer helmet covers, an engaged group of skaters
        Skill level required: anyone who is cleared to scrimmage
        Description: Get 5 v. 5 on the track at one time and follow the variations listed below.
        This drill is set up as if you were doing regular jams in a scrimmage.

        Version I- "The Game's Behind You" - set it up like a Power Jam or determine before you start which Jammer is going to get Lead (for the first go, just have one Jammer get out of the pack on the initial pass so that you simplify the focus). The team that has the Power Jam or Lead Jammer must grab one of their Opposing Blockers ASAP and start to contain her, slow her down, goat her, etc. The first Blocker to start grabbing a goat needs to yell either, "I've got one!" or "The game's behind you!" to her teammates to let them know that they are going to start getting a goat. Once they get a goat and their Jammer laps the pack reset and repeat with the next set of skaters. Have each team take turns getting Lead and grabbing goats. Feel free to use an expression that better suits your team. If "get a goat!" means nothing but "she's trapped!" makes it happen with in seconds, use that wording instead.

        Version II- "The Game's Behind You" + "Time Ticking Away" -the same as Version I, but this time give the Blockers a limited amount of time to grab a goat. At first give them 30 seconds once their Jammer has left the pack, then 25 seconds, 20 seconds, 15, 10, 5. If you are on 30 seconds and they are unable to grab a goat in that time, end the drill and go to the next group. Make sure teams keep communicating with one another by shouting, "We've got one!" "The game's behind you!" or what ever other expression is just right for your team.

        Version III- " The Games's Behind You" - similar to Version I, but now the Jammers have to get through the pack normally so it's not predetermined. Which ever Jammer gets out first, her team then needs to get a goat ASAP. If both Jammers get out at once restart the drill with the same group. (If your team is more advanced you can have Jammers go into Jammer on Jammer defense or better yet, which ever Jammer gets Lead have her try to suck her Opposing Jammer back into the pack- I have a drill of this, if you need one).

        Version IV- "The Game's Behind You" + "Kill Their Jammer!"- similar to Version III, but with a combination of "Time Ticking Away"- The team whose Jammer gets out first has to A) get a goat and B) keep the Opposing Jammer from leaving the pack. At first the team only has to hold onto their Opposing Jammer for 5 seconds, then 10, then 15, 20, 25 and 30. If you are on the 15 second interval and the Blockers let their Opposing Jammer out at 10 seconds, the jam is called off immediately and you start a new jam.

        Version V- "The Game's Behind You" + "Kill Their Jammer!" - you need two stopwatches for this Version. This is a combination of Version III and IV. Split Blockers on the track into two groups: A and B. 2 from each team are in each group so you will have a total of 4 As and 4 Bs on the track at one time. Jammers are still vying to get out of the pack first. As soon as a Jammer gets Lead her 2 Blocker As need to get a goat and her 2 Blocker Bs need to keep their Opposing Jammer in the pack. Blockers A and B are both being timed and competing to see who can carry out their objectives longer. After the Jam is over point out how much longer either A or B was able to carry out their objective. Discuss how their success impacted the Jam. This could help you decide future line-ups based on their success.

        Additional notes: If you can, do all the variations of this drill at the same practice. If modifying the drills will better suit the needs of your team, modify away! The above scenarios are simply one reason for when grabbing a goat could be a good strategy for your team. There are so many more what-ifs, buts, ands, alsos, etc. involved in this concept. What is your favorite?

        I'll be running these drills at the Blood and Thunder Camp in Florida in August 2011. Go to for more information.

        If your league is looking for a guest trainer, I'm for hire. Email me and I'll send you my rates and availabilities.