Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gruesome Twosome

Alternative names: --
Objective: Teamwork; self-confidence booster; to practice blocking.
Typical length of drill: 10-20 mins (time adaptable to how much time is available)
Materials needed: A full taped down track
Skill level required: Skaters must be cleared for contact
Description: This drill is like a mix between a game of Tag and a game of Blood & Thunder / Queen of the Rink.  The coach selects a pair of skaters who have two completely different sets of skills or ‘signature moves’ (i.e. a tall, fast jammer and a big bootied heavy hitter).  These skaters together function as IT.  They have to work together to tag other skaters.  They can never be more than two strides away from each other.  To tag a skater IT must push the skater out of bounds or knock her/him down.  The pair has two minutes in which to tag as many of the other skaters as possible.  If you have a large group of skaters (or just as an added challenge), you can chose TWO sets of ITs and the two pairs can compete for the most tags in a 2-minute period.

Note: It is not totally necessary to pair up people of different skill sets, this can also be played with any sets of partners just for fun.  The reason you would want to pair up people with different sets of strengths and weaknesses is so that skaters can learn how to use their teammates and thoste teammates' special skills on the track (for skaters to find how they complement each other on the track) and to boost confidence (to show that all skaters have something to contribute to the game even though/especially because everyone has different skills).  Roller derby is a TEAM sport so no one can be a superstar on their own.

Additional notes: I came up with this drill when I saw that we needed to work on teamwork and the skaters needed to learn a little bit more about how to use each other's strengths to fill in their own weaknesses.  I wanted to do something that both required two people to work closely together at all times (to practice partnering and not going off on your own lone-wolf mission completely forgetting about your buddy) and something that was fun so that we could do it at the end of practice and everyone could leave with happy feelings.  I also ran this drill during MayDay in Hell, the biggest roller derby event in Finland thus far.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Queen of the Rink

Alternative names: Blood and Thunder
Objective: For fun; to practice keeping your balance and staying within boundaries when giving and receiving hits; to practice hard hitting
Typical length of drill: 5-15 minutes (time adaptable to how much time is available)
Materials needed: A full taped down track
Skill level required: Skaters must be cleared for contact.
Description: This is a variation on the game Blood & Thunder.  The primary objective in the game is to be the last skater left upright.  All the skaters start by spreading themselves around the track and skating at a medium pace.  On the coach's whistle the game begins: The skaters are allowed to use any and all legal means to get the other skaters to fall or go out of bounds (i.e. pushing/leaning, hitting/blocking).  When a skater falls or goes our of bounds s/he becomes an obstacle for the remaining skaters on the track by sitting down in the spot where the infraction occured.  The winner of the game is the last skater left on the track.  To add an extra level of challenge to this game, move the game to the inside of the track once there are only a few skaters left standing, making the play-area much smaller.
Additional notes: I think there is argument about which of these versions is the original Blood & Thunder and whether or not Queen of the Rink is actually a different game or just another name for Blood & Thunder.  I do not know the answer.  The way I have posted the two drills here on A.D.D. is the way that I have learned to separate the two games, and this certainly makes it easier for me and those I'm coaching to know what I'm referring to when I talk.  I don't remember where I learned this variation on the game but it's definitely kind of a classic, and it's really fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One full off-skates workout session

Alternative names: --
Objective: This post is written to help you hold an entire hour's off-skates workout -session, and to give you ideas for new exercises to use at off-skates practice
Typical length of drill: N/A
Materials needed: None necessarily, though for a couple of the exercises in the videos below you need a step platform (noted next to the links), and for some it might be nice to have a yoga mat to lay on
Skill level required: None
Description: I was futzing around on YouTube one night, gleaning drill ideas and speed-skating technique tips from inline speed-skating videos, when I stumbled onto one of Ottawa Inline Skating Club's channels, chok-full of great skating-related plyometrics exercise demonstrations!  I know many leagues out there include off-skates hours into their weekly/monthly training regimes, and that it can sometimes be a little bit daunting to think of new, fun, useful exercises to do at each off-skates session (and particularly for those coaches who have no background in sports), so below is inspiration for a full off-skates workout session.  I have not embedded all 33 of the plyometrics videos below, just a couple of my favorites, but I have provided links to all of them so that you can easily click and check out on the ones that you wish to see/use!

Baby hops
Bicycle (the classic bicycle crunch; your skaters may want a yoga mat for this one)

Crossover steps

Crossover bounding
Depth jump (step platforms needed)

Dryland skating

Jump to box (step platforms needed)
Lateral jump to box (step platform needed)
Lateral hop (cones or other small items to jump over needed)
Leg lift (your skaters may want a yoga mat for this one)
Leg switch
Low walk

Ballerina low walk

Low walk elbow to heel
Lunge low walk
Rocket jump
Side lunge
Single leg leap
Single leg squat

Single leg squat with hold

Single leg vertical hop
Sit up + advanced version (your skaters may want a yoga mat for this one)
Squat (yes, the good ol' squat!)
Squat split jump
Star jump
Static squat (this one should be familiar!)
Tuck jump
Wall sit
Basic 45-degree skate leap
Single leg squat (position 2)
Skate leap with touch back (notice the back foot) 
Skate leap with hop

Skate leap with forward travel

Additional notes: For those leagues out there who don't currently have any off-skates sessions built into their training schedules, let this serve as your inspiration for your first off-skates workout day!  The benefits of cross-training are myriad.  If you're interested in the topic of cross-training, read the following interesting Runner's World article: "Eight Benefits of Cross-Training".  It's about cross-training for runners, but the list can certainly also be applied to roller derby!  And here is an additional article specifically about cross-training for skaters, from Skating to Better Health.  It includes descriptions of multiple different cross-training exercises and sports that you can do!  I for instance never thought about the fact that "basketball and racquet sports also develop agility."  Excellent.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Make a Call

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice making calls and to test your knowledge of the WFTDA referee hand signals.
Typical length of drill: N/A
Materials needed: To run the program you need a Windows computer with .net Framework 3.0 or later.  This can be downloaded through Windows Update or the Microsoft website.
Skill level required: None
Description: The following post and the computer program associated with it has been created and submitted to A.D.D. by Major Madness of RuhrPott Roller Girls, Germany:

To make the right call and use the right verbal cue is on of the most important things while reffing.  A lot of refs start to practice these by making little note cards with a number and a penalty on it.  It's a good start but this way you always practise the same calls and it's quite a lot of work to do this.  With "Make a Call" it's easy to practice and test your calling skills.

Major penalty

The program has a Learning- and a Test- mode.  You just need to press "New Call" to generate a one to four -digit number in different colors and a verbal cue penalty.  These will be black for minors and red for majors. Now make a clean call by saying color, number, penalty with the right hand signal and whistle, and "Major" for majors.  If you are not sure you can press "Show Signal" to see the correct hand signal.  By pressing "Test your Skills" a new number and penalty will be generated for you every five seconds.  The handsignal will pop up four seconds later to show you whether or not you were right.

Test your skills

The software is free to give away, no rights.  The latest Versions can be found at  If you like it, tell me.  If you find any bugs or have an idea for future development tell me too.  If you don't like it, tell it to someone who cares. ;-)  Feel free to Contact me by e-mail or by Facebook.

Additional notes: My refband (this is me, Geena, speaking here again :) has this program installed on his computer and we both think it's great!  Not only is this program good for referees and NSOs but it is also a good way for skaters and announcers to practice their own knowledge and understanding of the different referee hand signals and verbal cues.

If you like this post you may also like the post Handy Things to Know and its accompanying video.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Positive visualization

Alternative names: --
Objective: To get everyone in a positive mindset; to improve your game
Typical length of drill: 2-5 minutes
Materials needed: An open mind and good imagination
Skill level required: None
Description: This is an exercise that can be done on- or off- skates, and will be most beneficial if repeated at every practice for several weeks.  I've usually done it after stretching, before everyone gets ready to start skating hard.

First, have all of you skaters sitting comfortably in front of you with their eyes closed.  Then, tell them that for each statement that you say they should visualize themselves in first person completing the statement physically while they repeat it out loud.

Here is a list of some of the things that I have had skaters repeat after me at practices (these are just suggestions and you should definitely modify/add/customize to your own team's needs):
  • I am a good skater
  • I am a skilled skater
  • I am an excellent skater
  • I am a fast skater
  • I am a really fluid jammer
  • I am a really good blocker
  • I am great at booty blocking
  • No one gets past my booty
  • No one can break through my walls
  • I am the best blocker I can be
  • I am amazing at holding the inside line
  • I give hard hits
  • I give well-placed and well-timed hits
  • I am not afraid of getting hurt
  • I am not afraid of getting hit
  • I improve at every practice
  • I never doubt my skills
  • I support other skaters
  • Other skaters support me
  • I perform really well in front of an audience
  • The audience does not distract me
  • I respect my fellow skaters
  • My fellow skaters respect me
  • My team needs me
  • We’re all in this together
  • I am confident on my skates
  • Every time I make a mistake I learn something new
  • I am a strategic player
  • I am great at playing roller derby
  • I love roller derby!

Research has shown that "visualization can actually enhance performance to nearly the same extent as physical practice" (1).  Like physical practice, a little bit here and there may do some good, but for the best result your skaters should make this a routine part of their training.  This means doing it outside of practice as well, repeating to themselves the things that they wish to internalize, such as "I am a really fast skater" and "I give well-placed and well-timed hits".  Here is an excellent basketball reference for how to make this exercise the most beneficial: "You need to visualize everything out of your eyes (in the 1st person). You have to be there at the free throw line feeling the basketball. Seeing the goal. Hearing the noise.  As you shoot, you should FEEL the ball roll off your fingers. You should SEE the ball traveling through the air with perfect backspin. You should SEE your hands out in front of you with the perfect follow through. You should SEE your hands out in front of you holding the follow through as you HEAR & SEE the ball swish through the net." (2)

So if we apply this to say, jamming, you have to be there on the track, see that pack in front of you, visualize the space IN FRONT of the pack that you are going to occupy, feel your skates on the hardwood floor, see your own body move fluidly through all the holes, hear your quick feet on the track, physically possess the feeling of sprinting out of the pack.  Skaters need to focus while they do this, really meditate on each thing that they are visualizing.

Additional notes: It's been a while since I ran this exercise at practices but I was reminded of it by a really great recent roller_girls Yahoo group -post covering exercises to practice focus and mindfulness, by Chrome Molly of the Southern Oregon Rollergirls.  I highly recommend reading it!

Further reading and sources:
(No complicated academic journals here, just simple internet articles that any lay-person can understand, I promise!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Showercap derby

Alternative names: Sock derby, Skateless derby, Footsie derby
Objective: To learn and practice strategies; to slow down roller derby and allow new skaters to learn more about the basic rules and gameplay; to practice all the different little intracacies of derby without the element of speed; to allow the skaters and bench managers to prepare for all the things that happen on and around the bench during a bout (i.e. panty wrangling, signaling time from the penalty box between jams, signaling penalties from the jammer line, etc.)
Typical length of drill: Depends a great deal on what you are using it for but you should allow a minimum of 15 minutes for this
Materials needed: A WFTDA -regulation size track or just four cones to mark the inside track line (depends a little on who the drill is for and what specifically you would like to practice)
Skill level required: None
Description: I feel like there's been lots of talk about this in many derby circles recently -- playing roller derby without skates.  The idea here is that you do everything you would normally do, from booty blocking and hip hits right down to referees calling penalties and skaters wearing all of their pads (ok, I guess that's up to each league; admittedly I have played some very light-contact showercap derby in my streetwear).  This is great and useful and fun and awesome for so so many different reasons (just check out the list in "Objectives")!  I suggest that you decide in advance what the primary objective or goal is for YOUR team when you do this, so that you're actually using this to improve your strategies, or positioning in the pack, or communication, or understanding of rules, or to create new formations, etc. etc.  This training is especially great for leagues who have troubles securing practice venues -- you can do this outdoors in a grassy park or even in a gravel parking lot!  All you need is some fairy dust and an imagination :) 

Video: Here's a little preview of what you're getting yourself into

Additional notes: We call this "showercap derby" because at one point we actually used showercaps with Sharpied stars and pivot lines.  Kind of hilarious.  They actually DID fit better than the helmet panties do when you're not wearing a helmet.  I actually endorse it for this particular derby activity.  At the start of every freshmeat training period we demonstrate the basic gameplay and rules to the brand new skaters by having our veterans and referees demonstrate a couple of jams in slow motion using Showercap Derby.  I think if we had more time during our training sessions it would probably really bolster the freshmeats' understanding of the game if we did thorough demonstrations followed by them doing it on the track together with our veteran skaters.  You try it and tell us how it works our for your freshmeat skaters in the comments below!