Monday, February 7, 2011

Sliding Doors

Alternative names: Elevator Doors 
Objective: We've found this drill to work on a few levels, and we have a few variations on it that change the objective and the focus up. We start simple, and then step up the difficulty for all skaters as we go along.  This drill was originally run by Quadzilla at a Blood and Thunder Bootcamp in the UK last year, and once I felt the girls had a good grasp of his version, we changed the drill up a little bit to make it extra challenging and make everyone think fast!
Typical length of drill: We usually run this for about 15-20 minutes, depending on how many girls we have, as we like to give everyone a turn in each position.
Materials needed: Jammer covers (multiple), whistle, track outline. 
Skill level required: Approved for contact
Description: As I mentioned, there are 4 variations of this drill that we run, so in the order in which we run them:

Sliding Doors V.1 
3 skaters - 2 blockers who form a 2 wall, and a jammer (their teammate) floating a few feet behind them. The group skates out.
On the whistle, the 2-wall separates for a count of three seconds, then slams shut again. During this 3-second window the jammer must up her speed and sprint through the hole before the space is closed again.
I usually run 5 reps each with a 3-second window, then drop it to 2 seconds for 5 reps, then 1 second for 5 reps. It really makes the jammers more reactive, spotting a hole for even the shortest length of time and attacking it.

Sliding Doors V. 2 
So, once the skaters have grasped the idea of the drill with a teammate behind them, we up the pressure.
For Version 2, we put 2 jammers in single file behind the 2-wall. The girl closest to them is their teammate, the girl at the very back acts as an opposing jammer.
On the whistle, the wall will split apart for long enough to allow their teammate through, but then come together again fast enough to block the opposing player.
This does 2 things - it forces the blockers to focus and watch what's happening behind them, ensuring that their teammate is lined up and ready to go, and also puts their positional blocking to the test as they have to lateral back in and block out the opposing blocker cleanly. It also helps the jammers practice that explosive burst of speed that can make all the difference, as soon as that whistle goes, both of them really have to attack the space. And finally, especially for the opposing jammer, it puts her plow stop to the test to avoid back blocking.

Sliding Doors V.3 
Without doubt, my favourite variation of the drill. It really puts everyone to the test.
Version 3 is a simple change to Version 2 - switch the jammers.
Set up the skaters as in Version 2, but this time, the opposing jammer is the one closest to the wall, and therefore the teammate jammer is now furthest from the wall.
This is to teach your jammers that sometimes they'll have to get aggressive and do their own dirty work!
There is no whistle used for this drill. It is the jammer's responsibility to get to her teammates - she must attack the opposing jammer to take her place, and once the blockers see that their teammate is now closest to them, they can separate, letting their teammate through, and then slamming together again, closing the path for the opponent and blocking her out.
This variation of the drill is the one where everyone really needs to focus their attention in several places. The blockers must successfully keep the other jammer at bay while their teammate attacks. Jammer "1" must use her skills to gain the advantage over her opponent, communicate to her teammates, and then use a burst of speed to break through the hole. The opposing jammer should be resisting all attempts from the other players to restrain her, and should attempt to hit the hole when it opens.

Sliding Doors V.4 
This version incorporates every skater.
Take one volunteer and give her the jammer star. Pair everyone else up and have them skate in 2 parallel pacelines, arms length behind one another, and forming a wall with the girl beside her (for example, if you have 11 girls, you've set up five 2-walls plus one jammer). The jammer skates at the back of the 2 lines.
The pacelines will set a moderate speed, skating the centre of the track (lanes 2 & 3 as we call them), and on every whistle, the lines will separate, so the girl on the inside of each pair goes to the inside line, the other goes to the outside line.
Once the lines split, the jammer attacks. With quick acceleration, she makes her way through the gap. The coach will blow another whistle at random, and the lines will close up again - this forces the jammer to make a quick decision as to whether or not she should stop and avoid a back block, or try to squeeze past one more wall. When the whistle blows again, the walls separate, she attacks again, whistle blows, walls close... and so on until she makes it to the front of the lines.
We've only tried this variation a couple of times, and I want to give credit to Loco Lena and Hazed & Contused of Arizona for the idea. This version really forces a jammer to think and evaluate on the spot - should I slow down? Should I attack? Is that space big enough? Am I in danger of a back blocking penalty? It works really nicely.

Give these a try - they're a favourite not only of mine, but the DRG really enjoy this one!
-Violent Bob-

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