Friday, November 4, 2011

Bus Ride

Alternative names: Finnish Bus Ride
Objective: Conditioning, staying focused, speed control, skating in a low derby stance
Typical length of drill: 10-15 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just a few cones to mark the inside track line, + four cones to use as bus stops
Skill level required: None

Description: Start by setting up your four bus stops on the outside of the track – one cone at each apex and one cone at the very middle of every straightaway.  The skaters split into four equal groups and each group stands at a bus stop when the drill begins.  The coach begins as the bus driver (and it's up to you if you want to stick to one bus driver the whole time or switch it up and have a few of the skaters act as bus drivers too) and the drill starts when the bus driver begins skating around the track.  Naturally, s/he is “sitting” in her/his “chair” as s/he is driving the bus around the track.  The skaters at the bus stops can now start hailing the bus by sticking their arm out.  When the bus driver stops the bus in front of a bus stop the skaters who are at that bus stop can choose to get on the bus or to wait a little bit longer (in this drill the skaters themselves get to decide for how long they will be sitting on the bus).  When the skaters get on the bus they “take a seat” (meaning, they get into the 90° angle squat position, as if actually sitting in a chair) behind the bus driver, two people always next to each other so that there is a double line behind the driver.  Once the passengers are on the bus the bus begins driving.  Everyone on the bus follows the bus driver, whatever she does.  If she comes to another bus stop where other passengers want to get on, the whole bus has to slow down and come to a stop.  If the bus driver speeds up, the whole bus has to speed up.  If the bus driver has to navigate through multiple lanes of traffic, the whole bus has to do so.  The bus driver is in charge and gets to decide what obstacles the bus encounters and at what times, her/his job is to call them out to the rest of the passengers so that they know what to do.  Here are suggestions for the many different things that the bus can do during the bus ride:

  • Driving through a tunnel – Everyone squats really really super low so as not to hit the ceiling of the tunnel
  • Debris in the road – Everyone jumps over the debris
  • Pedestrians or road kill – The bus has to weave around the pedestrians or the road kill
  • Local roads – The bus goes really slowly
  • Highway – The bus speeds up and goes really fast
  • A tree in the middle of the road – Everyone splits up so as to make room for the tree to go through the middle of the bus and then everyone immediately comes together again
  • A group of children crossing the street – Everyone weaves around like mad making sure not to hit any of the children in the middle of the road
  • Red light / Green light – When the light turns red the bus comes to a halt.  When the light goes green again the bus takes off.

If passengers wish to get off the bus because they feel they can't “stay seated” any longer, they say the word “Pling!” nice and loud so that the bus driver hears them, and then the bus pulls over at the next stop.  At this point anyone who wishes to exit the bus may do so.  I like to tell skaters before doing this drill that when they start feeling like they want to get off the bus because they can't squat any longer, they should try to push themselves to one more bus stop and THEN press the button so that they get that extra benefit of pushing themselves just a little bit further.

An illustrated example of the Bus Ride -drill.  Click the image to view it larger.

I usually end with 5 laps of highway at which time no one is allowed to get on or off the bus (I mean really, how often do you see bus stops on the highway?) so I warn the skaters that it's about to come up in case they want to get back on the bus before it's too late.

If you are lucky and have an off-skates assistant, you can ask this person to throw or place cones (or other things) onto the track in the path of the bus so that all the skaters have concrete obstacles to weave around.  If you have multiple off-skates people at practice you can ask them to be physical pedestrians or road kill or school children for the bus to navigate around.

Additional notes:  I came up with this drill in the spring when I wanted to have a fun drill that felt like a game but also gave our thigh muscles a good workout while at the same time forcing us to practice skating nice and low.  I've done this a few times with a few different groups and it has always been well received.  Because it's a short-ish drill (very effective even if you do it for only 10 minutes) it's also a really great filler – you can plug it in to any small spaces that you may have leftover in your practice schedule.  I like to do this at the end of practice because it's a fun way to end the day, but I've also been known to start practice with this (after regular warm-ups) to get everyone to squat low from the very beginning.  This is a good drill to help skaters who skate too upright.

Feel free to suggest your own fun bus obstacles in the comments -section below!  I know you've got some :)


  1. can u please add pictures. they are really helpfull. as u did with the previous exercise. thanks

  2. I will try to get some the next time I run this drill! And you guys are always welcome to submit photos when you do these at home :)

  3. I liked this drill, it was really helpful for the freshmeat we have on our team.