Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Skater Progression Diagram

Tigre Force’s guest blogging series for All Derby Drills starts with introducing the Skater Progression Diagram -- followed by 5 drills picked from different diagram section themes. Stay tuned!

Skater Progression Diagram

Estrogeena Davis and I went for an outside skate last summer and we discussed coaching new skaters. We were planning on having a Coaching Workshop for New Finnish Derby Coaches, and we wanted to create a tool to make it easier for us to explain the skater progression from a Fresh Meat Skater into a Bouting Skater. We got the vision of a derby track divided into different sections of development and practice. We got the first Diagram made in a pretty short time, and I think it still looks pretty good.

Especially in countries like Finland, where roller skating is not a part of the history, the skater progression starts from level zero, and we wish that none of the new skaters in Finland would take the risk of jumping into the game before they are physically and mentally ready for it. Of course every league has their own rules, but this Skater Progression Diagram -tool was created for those coaches who care for their newbies and share our thoughts.

Click image to view it larger or to download it.

What is it about?

As mentioned, the diagram was created to help coaches explain to new skaters why they can’t start playing roller derby immediately after deciding to start the sport. It’s sometimes frustrating and difficult for the skaters to keep themselves motivated if they don’t get to play. Sharing the diagram with the new skaters gives them a visual break-down of what they have to look forward to; from the diagram they can see where they are in their training, where they should be in their progress, and it helps them set personal goals.  If you further go over with the new skaters the positive effects that goal-setting can have on their performance, sharing this diagram and the fresh meat training schedule with them can combined have a really strong influence on them.

The diagram says: Start out as a blocker and as you have completed all your skills tests, scrimmaged a bit, and maybe even bouted a few times, you start the process all over again, and this time really consider the position you want to play. Yes, some skaters were born to be jammers, and in some leagues select skaters are coached as jammers from the very beginning, but in our experience the skills might change during the progression. We’ve seen jammers turn out to be the best blockers, and the best blockers slowly develop into star jammers.  Geena has been known to say "A jammer is just a blocker who is trying to get to the front of the pack, over and over again" so with this theory in mind it would be in a skater's best interest to start by learning all the blocker skill sets on the first lap around the track, and then on the second lap around either learn all about jamming, or really focus on another specific position that you have learned a little bit about on your first lap (i.e. pivot).

It takes a lot of work to become a good roller derby player. Many leagues have got skaters as trainers -- they are just skaters doing their best in teaching the others what they can do best. I think that the diagram helps these trainers and newer leagues in planning their practices, even seasons or practice schedules. It gives perspective to the hard work and long-term practice plan before bouting definitely worth it.

Remember -- learning doesn’t end at the jammer line. Learning is a never-ending process. I bet skaters who’ve played derby for more than 10 years still learn new stuff as the sport is developing while it’s played all around the world by a huge variation of skaters, skating skills, personalities, styles of gameplay etc.

Long story short, I will introduce 5 different drills to this guest blogging series for All Derby Drills, picked from some of the topics from the Skater Progression Diagram. So if you like the diagram, you can use the drills as an example to plan the practice schedule for new skaters.

Hope you enjoy the drills, and don’t hesitate to comment & ask any questions about the diagram. It is the first version of it and like the sport, it’s supposed to develop :)

1 comment:

  1. This is a great visual. When I was in martial arts, I was in a club where you weren't allowed to spar for a year. This was in contrast to a club across town that gave you sparring gear the day you first signed up. Like any sport, there is always the eagerness to just "play the game", but there are so many reasons why game play needs to come later vs. sooner. This will be a good goal setting tool to keep new skaters stay motivated through the steps.