Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blockers' Alley

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice booty blocking; to learn how to move side to side across the track in order to block another skater’s way; to practice looking over just one shoulder while positionally blocking
Typical length of drill: 10-15 minutes
Materials needed: Multiple cones to mark the alley (alternatively, you can also mark the alley with masking tape).  Optional: measuring tape to make the alley the exact width of a derby track.
Skill level required: None
Description: In the middle of your training space, set up an alley that is approximately 13-15 feet wide (ca. 4 meters) using cones or masking tape.  If you have a large group of skaters then you can set up two alleys next to each other so that you are able to split the group in half and have two alleys going at the same time.  Line up all the skaters in a row at the mouth of the alley(s).  Two at a time the skaters are going to skate down the alley and the first skater is going to booty block the second skater the whole way down.  When they get to the end of the alley, they both skate back to the end of the line and wait to go again.  Make sure that the skaters are taking turns so that everyone gets lots of practice blocking.  If you are training freshmeat remind them that this is NOT a jammer drill so the person being blocked should make it challenging for the blocker, but should not try their hardest to pass her/him.  The point here is to let the skaters work on getting the booty blocking stance and motions across the width of the track correct, and to have them practice looking over just one shoulder while blocking.  If you are running this drill with more experienced skaters you can certainly also use this as a jammer agility drill.

Additional notes: This is a really simple drill that's great for freshmeat that are learning to positionally block or booty block for the first time.  We did this very early on with New Hampshire Roller Derby and Helsinki Roller Derby made it part of the regular freshmeat training.  I don't know where the drill came from, please give me no credit for it.  What I think is most important in this drill is the part about looking over just one shoulder -- when you run this drill demonstrate to the skaters before-hand how easy it is to pass a blocker while they are turning their head, and explain that a good blocker knows to move right when s/he cannot see the jammer on the left, and vice versa.  Later of course we teach the skaters about pack awareness and looking around you at all times, but it's good practice to get them used to booty blocking from day one without turning their head so that the jammer doesn't get that split-second chance to zoom right by.

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