Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why off-skates strength training and fitness?

Alternative names: --
Objective: Learn about the importance of off-skates strength training for roller derby.
Typical length of drill: --
Materials needed: --
Skill level required: None
First of all I want to welcome you all to my guest blog on Estro's All Derby Drills. My part is obviously to show you all how important off-skates strength training and fitness is for roller derby.

Roller Derby is a really intense and multifaceted team sport. We all know that besides a great understanding of rules and tactics, passion for the sport, motivation and team spirtit we need agility, endurance, speed and strength to play roller derby. Tactic, passion, team spirit and motivation are kind of psychological elements of a player. But beside that, we need the ability to move and react very fast. Within a jam or a bout we have a repetition of very fast movements, stops, lateral movements, we need to be able to sprint out and react quickly and repeat those fast and quick movements in the short amount of time during a jam over and over again PLUS we maybe have to recover sometimes within 30 sec until the next jam is on.
But to develop THAT - which is agility, endurance, speed and strength - we NEED our muscles to be trained. The following abilities are the base of a good muscle work:

a.) the connection between muscules, muscle parts, nervous system and brain:
- intramuscular coordination
- intermuscular coordination

b.) the different types of strengths:
- strength endurance
- maximal strength
- fast strength
- explosive strength

Here are some examples which make it easier to understand... You will see that all parts and facts of strength and muscles relate to each other and/or are part of each other.

1.) If we try to sprint out as fast as we can from the jammer start position, all parts of our hamstring muscle have to react as soon as we hear the whistle blow. We not only want to start as quickly as possible we also want to be faster than the opposing jammer and we want to maximize our speed in an adequate amount of time. What we here need is a fast connection between our brain, nervous system and muscle - we want to have control over our legs and tell them to start with max power, a high stride frequency and gain speed as quickly as possible. Therefore we need a good intra/intermuscular coordination, which is the ability of coordinating all parts within the front part of our hamstring muscle at the same time AND also be able to relaxe the back part at the same time. If you are good in coordinating your muscles your getting better with explosive strength and fast strenght which is also of importance for a fast jammer start.

2.) As a jammer we need to have a good endurance and be fast. So the link between endurance and speed are fast strenght and strength endurance plus speed endurance. A jammer doesn't have the same speed during one jam. That would be easy to train. But she mostly switches beetwin stopping, falling, sprinting out, moving around quickly - sometimes up to 2 mins. Also, if she's done, she needs to recover sometimes within 30 secs to get on the track again. Without the ability of the muscle to repeat movements a lot you can't go fast over 2 mins and recover quickly.

The two examples have been random. Basically, it doesn't matter if you're a jammer or a blocker, you need to move your feet all the time and be in control of your body and muscles whenever you are on the track PLUS recover quickly between jams.

As you all know, you can train endurance, speed, agility and strength on skates. But hey, to be honest... who has the time to work out 5 times a week or the halls/ venues to have an additional on-skates practice for endurance and strength? Who hast the money for that? And, most of the roller girls never played a sport before. So it is hard enough to skate and train agility. But practice speed and strength at the same time? Not possible. Also,
as soon as we start with roller derby we have start practicing strength and fitness - so we need to give our newbies the possibility to practice that, too.

I think, it's better to break it down into an extra session of off-skates strength and endurance training. There are many more arguments for off-skates training and after all you can see that at the end we need to develop our ability "strenght and fitness" fo becoming the roller girl we want to be. Within the next weeks I'll prioritize my posts and give you drills so you can all start to practice your strenght and fitness level.

Additional notes: My idea is teach you easy ways of strenght and fitness training and clincic as well as drills. I really want to prioritize the topic off-skates strength and fitness and break it down on simple drills step by step with each new post.

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