Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two-Point Touch

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice touching each other as much as possible; to practice effective blocking while going slow; to practice using each others' bodies and senses on the track; to practice team-blocking; to practice communication
Typical length of drill: 15 mins
Materials needed: A WFTDA regulation-size track (or a taped down track that's as close to the measurements as possible)
Skill level required: None, though some skaters may want to use contact in this drill

Description: In this drill skaters will go in groups of three onto the track and work together to block one opponent.  Start by getting all of your skaters into four lines.  Three of the lines are for blockers, and the last line is for the opponent.  The first skater from each blocker line will get onto the track and form a tight-knit group of blockers, and the first skater from the opponent line will start just slightly behind the blockers and try to get by them.  The blockers have one lap in which to work hard to block the opponent and really slow her down.  When the lap is complete they get back into line, making sure that they practice team-blocking 3 out of 4 times, and that they act as the opponent 1 out of 4 times (hence the four lines).  The main idea of this drill is that while they are blocking they should be constantly touching -- a minimum of two points of each blockers' body needs to always be touching another skater.  That could mean you touching someone with both hands, someone else touching you with both hands, or one person touching you with one hand while you touch someone else with your other hand.  Either way, two points on your body should always be touching another blocker.  The blockers are also to use each other, use each others' bodies, and use each others' senses.  That could mean pushing your body off another skater (while remaining in contact with them), holding on to another skater's hips and acting as the group booty while said person is acting as the eyes forward, pushing a teammate's body into the way of the opponent (while still remaining in contact with them, of course) -- basically you use each other and thus all together become one super-human (or super-blocker, really).  While touching each other and using each others' bodies, verbal communication is key.  The blockers should be constantly telling each other where the opponent is and what direction they are going in.  When skaters practice using both verbal and physical communication at the same time like this, it really improves their teamwork and team-blocking skills.

An illustration of the Two-Point Touch drill.  Click the image to view it larger.

I like to tell all the skaters before we begin that this is a blocker drill, NOT a jammer drill, that when you act as the opponent make it challenging for your teammates but not impossible.  Everyone should be learning how to team-block and get an opportunity to practice this skill thoroughly.

Then, after we've done this for about 5-10 mins and I see that everyone is getting it and is doing a good job, I tell the skaters that when they play the part of the opponent they should go all out and really make the blockers work for it.  Since you will encounter amazing opponents in your inter-league games it is imperative that you use practice-time to actually practice playing against people who give you a good run for your money.

Photo by Sean Murphy
Photo by Sean Murphy

Here Team Finland is using this drill in actual game-play against Team Sweden, successfully holding back the Swedish jammer.  Notice how all four blockers are touching a teammate with at least two points of their bodies (including a boob hold in the first picture, tehee).

Additional notes: This is by far my favorite drill at the moment.  I came up with this after seeing the London Rollergirls play against the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls in London a few months ago.  I noticed how extremely effective RMRG was at keeping the LRG jammer or goat behind them by getting into a tight group of three + blockers who just constantly were touching and grabbing and pulling and using each other.  I have always been taught and known the importance of touching in derby, but RMRG's display of touching was really what drove home the point for me.  I can honestly say that after the first time we did this drill we immediately saw improvement in the next scrimmage/pre-gaming drill.  And after having done this (and variations of it) a few times now, our teamwork has progressed tremendously.  Though this drill highlights team-blocking while going slowly, the skills learned apply to fast derby as well, and what we learned going slowly in this drill has helped our fast game a great deal too.

Finally I would also like to suggest that after completing this drill (or after you've completing a few rounds of it) you ask everyone how they felt when they were playing the part of the opponent.  Was it frustrating?  What parts of the body did they have to use to try to get by?  Leagues who do not practice a lot of team-blocking will be surprised by how effective constant touching, grabbing and pulling is, and how much more difficult it becomes to get through the pack when the opponents are really good at team-blocking.  I also like to ask my blockers how they felt doing this, what they felt as they were going through this drill.  It really can be an eye-opener for some.


  1. I like this, but I'm wondering where the multi player block thing comes in... I have a ton of fresh meat that I'd like to run this with but don't want to teach any bad habits!

  2. This is actually a *great* way to practice avoiding MPB -penalties while touching with your teammates. MPB -penalties happen not when you are holding/grabbing someone while blocking, but when the opponent is trying to get through the part where the connection between you and your partner is. So if I'm holding on to my teammate's thigh while we are blocking as a wall, it's only illegal if the opponent tries to get through right where my hand and my teammate's thigh are touching. What I can do in that situation is immediately release my hand and become a magnet with my partner -- we immediately connect our two thighs and take the hands out of the equation. So long as you use the magnet -response in 2 seconds or less you have not done anything illegal. The same applies no matter what part of your partner's body you are touching. If for instance I'm behind my teammate and I am grabbing on to her jersey while I'm blocking, as soon as the opponent tries to get through the connection I can pull myself into my partner so that her booty is rubbing my VaJayJay and then we're still a thick partner wall but the part where the grabbing was ocuring is not impeding the opponent. Make sense?

  3. FYI, I realize now (lol, months later, I'm a genus) that the diagram is actually showing the skaters doing this drill in the clockwise direction. The reason for that is that we used this drill during a reverse-direction practice. Rest assured that this drill is just as useful in the opposite direction as it is in the normal direction! Also, regularly skating and doing drills clockwise is really important for your joints, your muscles, etc. and I highly recommend getting in the habit of doing drills in the opposite direction.