Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Alternative names: Pinball
Objective: To practice offensive jamming; to get used to hitting whilst in the pack and practice effective timing and placements of hits within the pack; for the pack to communicate the location of the OJ at all times; to get used to being hit and possibly falling whilst in the pack
Typical length of drill: 15-20 mins
Materials needed: A WFTDA regulation-size track or some sort of a taped down track of similar measurements. Also, please please make sure that everyone is wearing all the appropriate safety gear!
Skill level required: Skaters must be cleared for contact

Description: This is an Endless Jammer -type of drill with boatloads of contact in it.  Have all of your skaters build one large pack.  One at a time you will send the skaters around the track and have them jam through the pack.  As they are jamming through the pack the skaters are hitting as many people as they can on their way to the front; jammers that don't make contact with at least 3 other skaters on their way through the pack have to do 15 crunches when they exit the pack.  Once the group understands the drill and a few skaters have passed through the pack, you can start sending more than one skater through at once, making it quite the clusterfuck indeed.  Choose in advance at what % the skaters in the pack will be blocking the jammers (if at all).  I suggest 25%.  Also, clarify before starting whether or not you will allow counter-blocking as you will definitely have skaters ask about that.

If you have a really large group of skaters you can split the pack in half and have two smaller packs going around the track at the same time, matching speeds and staying half-a-track away from the other pack at all times.  Send each skater through the other pack and when s/he returns to the back of her/his own pack have the next person from the same pack start.

Additional notes: In addition to being good for contact practice, this drill is also quite a good way to release pent up energy and aggression (you know, in a fun and loving kinda way :).  Nice for a Friday-night practice when everyone wants to let go of the past week's stresses.  It can definitely get a bit messy, but who hasn't played in a messy jam or two (or heck, a messy bout)?  This definitely gets skaters used to looking around them at all times as they learn that blockers will hit you HARD if they notice you're not looking.

Please note: Because this can be a power hitting training for some, it is important that you have your skaters properly stretch their necks and shoulders before and after practice.  You can get quite sore in that area after repeatedly taking hard hits.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Awareness & Communication Progression

In order to effectively play roller derby, you have to know where the opposing jammer is, where your jammer is, where your own teammates are and what they are doing, not to mention the other team’s blockers. You also need to be aware of track boundaries, pack definition and ref calls. You need to know who is lead jammer, if she's on a scoring pass and how many seconds are left in the jam. And then you need to be able to communicate all that stuff to your teammates. So, awareness and communication are kind of important. And by "kind of," I mean "extremely."

Alternative names:
Objective: to focus on and improve awareness and communication
Typical length of drill: Each phase should last 2-5 minutes. If skaters are struggling with any phase, repeat it until moving on to the next.
Materials needed: 2 jammer panties
Skill level required: ability to skate safely in a non-contact pack


Phase One - Awareness

Skaters are divided into two teams and wear a jersey that matches the jammer panties. Skaters pack up into one big pack and skate at a moderate pace. They traverse through the pack (never getting comfortable in one spot). Jammers skate through the pack repeatedly. Blockers try to locate where the jammers are, where their teammates are and where the opposing blockers, all while staying in bounds, keeping a legal pack and not touching opposing blockers.

Phase Two - Awareness & Communication

Repeat phase one, but instead of the jammers just skating around, they will reveal any number of fingers they chose, wherever they chose (behind their head, beside an ankle, in front of her face). Her blockers try to be the first to yell out the number. Both jammers hold numbers at the same time, and they can hang out in the pack for awhile or sprint through and race back around.

Phase Three - Awareness & Communication regarding your jammer

Repeat phase one. Blockers must communicate where their jammer is and what she is doing. They are instructed to use the league's designated derby language. Examples: "She's coming up!" “She’s on the inside!” “On the outside!” “She’s out of the pack!”

Phase Four - Awareness & Communication regarding the opposing jammer

This is the same as phase three, except blockers must pay attention to the opposing jammer. If a league has a code word for the opposing jammer, for example "doucheface," the blockers use that language. Examples: “Douceface coming up!!” “Douceface on the inside!” “Douceface on the outside!” “Douceface is out of the pack!”

Additional notes: n/a