Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pack Blood & Thunder

Alternative names: Blood & Thunder, Queen of the Rink
Objective: Fun, hitting, pack awareness
Typical length of drill: 5 to 15 minutes
Materials needed: a marked derby track or similar
Skill level required: contact eligible
Description: Like Blood & Thunder or Queen of the Rink, this is a "last skater standing" game.

All skaters get on the track between the jammer and pivot lines. At the whistle all legal contact is allowed between skaters. In addition to being removed from the game if you fall down or step out of bounds, you are also removed from the game if you are out of play. Generally OOP is considered to be 20' from the bulk of skaters, but as the game winds down to the last few, it is reduced to 10'.

Coaching Notes 

Help skaters recognize when "opportunity blocks" are happening on the track.

  • Did a skater not quite fall or go down from that last hit? Can I take the next hit and complete someone else's attempt?
  • Is there a skater not paying attention because they just hit someone else down or out that I can put down?
  • Is there a skater who is going for a big hit that I might be able to use their momentum to take that skater and their target out by following behind?
Help skaters recognize block avoidance tactics
      • Maintaining a front of pack but in play position is often the least likely spot to be engaged. Encourage newer skaters to stay there.
      • Would disengaging from this skater allow for the hitting skater to continue down or out of bounds while the receiving skater would stay up and in bounds?
      • Point out when people have been taken out because they weren't paying attention behind them or were too proud of their last hit (B&T can be a humbling game)

      All legal hits include

      • Hitting with legal blocking zones
      • Hitting to legal target zones
      • Hitting while stepping or skating in derby direction
      • Hitting while within 20' of "the pack"
      • Pushing and leaning

      As the game winds down to fewer skaters, implement a "shot clock" of 3 to 5 seconds. Have everyone not playing count "ONE one thousand, TWO one thousand..."

      Keep the games moving along. Encourage alliances on the track, especially to make sure the last round's winner does not win again.

      Additional notes: This pack modification was introduced to the game I play by my derby wife, Will Jettison, when he was coaching the Hellions of Troy back in 2008. We quickly found it made the game more derby-like and used more derby skills while not reinforcing bad derby habits like skating away from the pack. In traditional Blood & Thunder, it can quickly become a game of speed and avoidance.

      At Pioneer Valley Roller Derby, where we typically have 30 to 45 skaters at practice, we divide up into three groups, run each group until we're down to 3 skaters, then have a final match of the top 3 from each round. I would recommend packs of no more than 15 skaters.

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