Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guest blogging: Brawl-n-Order

All Derby Drills is excited to present our next guest blogger: Brawl-n-Order, Head Coach of State College Area Roller Derby (S.C.A.R. Derby):

"I've always tried to keep myself busy playing sports.  Soccer primarily.  From little league, as a teenager in Germany, a university team, to playing on the weekends, soccer has been the constant.  I've played under a lot of coaches and have taken something from each one of them  From drill sergeants to math teachers, they've all contributed something to my coaching "style".  As the legs grow older and the gut grows bigger I've picked up some other less "intense" sports.  I've been playing racquetball competitively for 10 years now, travelling to tournaments and coaching new players.  I'll do a 5K race every now and then just to prove I can still do it without the help of an ambulance.  And then there's derby.

I can't say I've been a hardcore skater for a long time as some other bloggers here.  Sure I skated when I was a kid.  Everyone did.  I've done the skateboard thing (which lasted a whole 6 months).  Hell I even bought a pair of knock off Roller Blades when they were popular in the mid nineties.  But they were very uncomfortable so that didn't last long.

Fast forward to 2010.  A friend and I were drinking beer one night and we started to talk about Roller Derby.  We found out there was a league in nearby Harrisburg and we made plans to go.  I started to watch some videos of their bouts on YouTube.  Now, being as long in the tooth as I am, I had some preconceived notions about what Derby actually is.  I remember watching it on TV and it was a no-holds-barred free for all of big haired ladies knocking the snot out of each other.  What I found out was totally different.  Where's the banked track?  Rules?  There are rules?  What happened to all the big hits?

A short time later two co-workers found a Craig's List ad about starting a derby league in the area and asked if I could give them a ride to the rink.  No problem.  Maybe I'd get a few free beers out of the deal.  Five people showed up to that first meeting, us three and a married couple.  They asked if I wanted to be a ref.  No problem I said.  They asked if I could skate.  Wait, what?  Ref's have to skate?

That first practice I remember strapping on a pair of quads for the first time since 1986 at the Colorado Springs Skate City.  Or was it 1990 at the Rollaway in Dallas?  Anywho, it had been a VERY long time, but I didn't have as hard a time as I thought I would, and before I knew it I was falling, t-stopping, and baseball sliding with the best of them.

Over the past year and some odd months the league has grown to about 40 skaters.  I've coached the fresh meat, stepped in and coached the "vet's" when the head coach needed me, and tried to cobble together a top notch ref crew.  Recently I've decided to focus primarily on the ref aspect.  Drilling, studying, studying, and drilling.  I believe derby ref's should be the same as hockey ref's in that they should be the best skaters out there.  One thing I've noticed since becoming head ref is there is a significant lack of ref specific drills online.  I've used some from All Derby Drills, Zebra Huddle, and the Yahoo Group, but the bulk of them we've made up.  I want to share these with other leagues and sprinkle some endurance drills in.  Nothing worse than a ref sucking wind trying to keep up with the derbiers he's officiating."

Over the next few weeks Brawl-n-Order will be posting referee drills so invest in your referees and help them become great at their jobs so that you in turn can become great skaters!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where's the Pack? II

Alternative names: Drop It
Objective: This drill teaches pack definition skills and identifying whether skaters are in or out of play.
Typical length of drill: 10 mins at a time
Materials needed: A regulation-sized track.  Cones, ideally wide and flat ones, you can also use paper plates in two different colors if you have, representing the players.  Tape measure.  Volunteers.
Skill level required: None

Description: A group of people (up to 10) skate on the track in a more or less tight pack formation.  Each one is holding one or more cones (representing the players).  On a whistle everyone drops their cone(s) to the the floor.  Now step off the track and look at the cones.  Pick out one or two participants and let them define the pack.  Pick another one and ask, Who is not in the pack, but still in play?  Who is out of play?  And so on.  Use the tape measure to check.  If a cone lands upside down you can go "What if that player is down?"

Advanced version: Add two cones in a third colour representing the jammers.

Additional notes: This drill was submitted to A.D.D. by Riff Reff of the Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz but he does not take the credit for it, he states that he has learned this drill from multiple different people.  I like it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Human Shield Obstacle Course

Alternative names: --
Objective: Team-building; Warm-up; Explosive energy; Agility; Fun
Typical length of drill: 10-15 mins
Materials needed: A full track or just four cones to mark the inside track line; minimum 11 participating skaters
Skill level required: None
Description: In this drill your skaters will make an obstacle course around the track for each other using their bodies.  I'm going to describe how the drill was originally set up by its creator, and then it is up to you to change it so that it suits YOUR needs.  You will need 10 people to volunteer to be the obstacles at the start of the drill, once everyone has gone through the course once you switch the obstacle -persons so that everyone gets to do it at least one time.  Here are the obstacle positions:

  • 2 people balled up on the ground as turtles: You will jump over them
  • 2 people standing next to each other in a wide stance, making a wall with a narrow space in the middle: You will squeeze your way through the space
  • 3 people in a row with legs spread apart widely: You will crawl through the tunnel shaped by their legs
  • 1 person standing really close to the inside line: You will jump/leap along the inside line to get by her/him (AND stay in bounds)
  • 1 person standing at the end of the course waiting to chase you: You will run away from her/him as fast as you can, until you reach the goal line
  • 1 person at the goal line to be the buddy who cheers you on the whole time and high-fives you when you cross it.  After high-fiving the buddy you stay and become the buddy for the next person going through the obstacle course.

    Illustration of the set-up. Click to view larger.

    This is a team-building activity and a self-esteem booster so the cheerleading buddy at the end is a totally necessary part of the course.  It also teaches the skaters how to be supportive of each other, and even helps some of them to come out of their shells.

    CherryF jumps over the turtles

    Coco crawls through the tunnel after she's squozen her way through the wall

    When we do this with our league, many of our skaters choose to wear their knee pads while going through the course because they get so into it that when they dive (literally) into the tunnel they risk injuring themselves.  People really run through this course :)

    Tigre (L) begins to chase Dyna (R) right after she has hopped over Kata (center)

    Even though our version here is pretty condensed (only covers half the track) you could totally spread the people out around the track more, and really make your skaters weave around a lot, and force them to use their agility -- in the photos you might notice that the tunnel is located close to the outside line while the wall and the inside blocker are located close to the inside line.  This adds a little bit more challenge to it.  I also like to imagine a huge league doing this with like 50 skaters, all spread out in crazy ways around the track, making like this really intricate obstacle course that involve motions too, like lots of squats and the person going through the course has to wait for a certain moment in the motion to pass/jump/crawl around/behind/under the obstacle.  Perhaps we should create video game -like levels of this drill with increasing difficulty and obstacles in each level.....?

    Additional notes: This drill was dreamed up by Team Finland's 2011 assistant coach, Tigre Force (pictured above).  By dreamed up I literally mean that she saw it in front of her as she was going to sleep on a warm July evening in 2011.  Tigre Force will do some guest blogging for us very soon and post other awesome drills that she's into.  She's also got a great little blog of her own called Travelling In the Name of Derby where you can read all about her derby excursions and coaching/skating experiences.