Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Push-n-Pull Pyramids

Alternative names: Shopping Carts
Objective: To practice proper stance and form; to get a good endurance workout; to practice using your outdoor voice
Typical length of drill: 15-20 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just four cones to mark the inside track line
Skill level required: None
Description: In this drill all the skaters take turns pushing and pulling a partner around the track.  To begin, have all of your skaters pair up with another skater.  It's good for them to pair up with someone their own speed and size but it's not crucial.  Each pair decides who is going to be skater A and who is going to be skater B and then all the pairs line up on the pivot line with skater A standing behind skater B, her/his hands ready on skater B's lower back/butt (basically on that sweet spot in-between the two).  On the whistle all skater A's begin pushing their partner around the track and the skater B's are simply staying in a nice, low derby stance and acting as dead weight.  After skater A has pushed skater B for one lap s/he speeds up past skater B and then becomes dead weight for skater B to push.  Once skater B has pushed skater A for one lap s/he speeds up past skater A and becomes dead weight. Then A pushes B for two laps, they switch, B pushes A for two laps, switch, A pushes for three laps, switch, B pushes for three laps, etc. (this is called "going up the pyramid").  They keep going like this until both have pushed each other for five laps, and then they switch to pulling each other while they are coming down the pyramid, starting with pulling each other for four laps each, then three laps each, two laps each, and finally, one lap each.  In the end both skaters are going to have acted as dead weight for 25 laps, have pushed another skater for 15 laps, and pulled another skater for 10 laps.  During this drill it is the dead weight skater's job to loudly yell out the number of laps that the pair is completing.  This helps skaters practice communication and using their outdoor voice (important when there are hundreds of screaming fans drowning out all the communication within the pack).

It's good to remind skaters during this drill that the lower they are when they're acting as dead weight, the easier it is for their partner to push and pull them.  Also, if you have a large group of skaters at practice, instead of having everyone pack up tightly on the pivot line at the beginning of the drill you can just have all the pairs spread out around the track and simply ask them to remember their point of origin for the sake of switching.

If you find that your skaters aren't pushing themselves during this drill, what you can do is add an element of competition to it.  Instead of having everyone go up the 5-lap pyramid and come back down, choose a number of minutes for which to do this (i.e. 5 minutes) and then challenge your skaters to see just how many steps up the pyramid they can go with their partner.  The pair who gets the furthest wins and maybe as a prize they get to skip the next five push-ups or something (or if you want to be really sinister, make the prize 10 push-ups and don't tell the skaters before-hand.  I mean hey, we're athletes and it's rewarding to get exercise and feel strong, right?).  If you use this alternative at practice, make sure that your skaters are partnering up with skaters of opposite speed so that the fastest and strongest skaters don't push and pull each other and automatically win.  Since yelling out the number of laps is a key part of this drill you have an opportunity to keep an eye on the skaters and make sure that they're not making up any laps or steps up the pyramid.

Additional notes: The original version of this drill is one that we did with New Hampshire Roller Derby (and again I don't know who the originator is so I apologize for not being able to give appropriate credit!), but the competitive variation is my own creation.  I'm a really competitive person so it should be no surprise that I like to participate in and make up competitive drills :)

This drill can work for warm-up, just make it timed or cut down the number of laps to skate so that it's not so endurancy.  I'd also like to mention that this is a good drill to do in the opposite direction.  If you like this drill you might also like Push-n-Pull and Pyramids.

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