Thursday, July 26, 2012

Simon Says

Alternative names: Simón Dice / Kungen Befaller / Kapteeni Käskee / Kommando Pimperle
Objective: To practice basic skills; to practice paying attention and listening to your teammates; agility; communication; warm-up
Typical length of drill: 5-10 minutes
Materials needed: None
Skill level required: None
Description: This is simply the classic Simon Says game with the added bonus of being on skates and thus being able to practice some basic skills while having fun.  Decide first if you alone will give commands or if you'll be giving the skaters turns to do it too.  Also decide on the punishment for doing something at the wrong time -- I like to give 5 or 10 push-ups.  Once the skaters have spread out around your practice space (everyone will need some room around them to shuffle and move around), face them and start giving commands.  For example:

  • Get low
  • Lay down
  • Jump
  • Shuffle left/right
  • March in place
  • Run on your toestops
  • Drop to a knee

The possibilities are endless!  Make sure you enforce the punishment for any time a skater does something when you have NOT started the command with "Simon says...".  For an added challenge, have the skaters do multiple commands at once and dole out punishment if they stop doing one of the tasks to start the next one (e.g. "March in place" and "Get low" -- skaters should continue marching while getting low unless Simon has said to stop marching).

For more advanced skaters you can remove the "Simon says..." aspect and simply have a commander-in-chief who tells the others what to do in rapid succession ("Jump, down, shuffle left, shuffle right, down, up, run, stop, back, shuffle right...").  That can transform this into a conditioning or endurance drill as well.

Additional notes: This is a fun way both to start and to end practice, and it's a good way for a skater to practice doing what they are being told (that sounds wrong but bear with me here).  Derby is a team sport and it should show when you are playing.  Even if you disagree with the strategy your teammate is commanding the pack to execute, it is better to fail as a team than to go it alone.  We need each other on the track -- the jammers need the blockers to make holes, the blockers need the jammers to score points, the blockers need the blockers to protect points.  When you are on the track it is almost *always* better to do the wrong thing as a team than the right thing by yourself, because it's like we used to say in NHRD: "When you're alone, you're a loser." As a team we can accomplish anything.  And hell, if we fail, at least I didn't fail by myself.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Obstacle Course

Alternative names: Popsicle Horse
Objective: Customizable, but a basic obstacle course is great for developing agility
Typical length of drill: 15 minutes
Materials needed: Whatever you can think of!  Lots of cones to jump over, people to juke around around, pads to step over, lines at which to perform a fall, etc.
Skill level required: None -- you can customize every obstacle course to the skill level of your skaters
Description: Decide in advance if you want your obstacle course to be a continuous loop or a one-at-a-time set up where the other skaters do squats (or something similar) while waiting in line for their turn.  Set up obstacles around the track that create situations for skaters to practice something that you have been working on recently or something that they need to work on in particular (e.g. weaving, jumping, hopping, crossovers, backwards skating, falls, slides, stops, communication, sideways skating, stepping, etc.).  Once you are finished and have demonstrated for the skaters what they should be doing through the course, let them have at it!  Run the course for as long as needed, or until everyone has gotten to try it a couple of times.  The illustrations below show examples of obstacle courses.

Illustration of a one-at-a-time obstacle course.

Illustration of a continuous obstacle course with TWO paths to choose from.

Additional notes: This is a simple classic that can be customized to whatever your needs are.  The obstacle course can incorporate both simple and complex exercises, from toe stop walking and double knee slides to hits and turns.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ref Pace Line

The following drill was submitted by Riff Reff of the Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz.

Alternative names: --
Objective: Getting used to make and pick up calls while skating
Typical length of drill: 15 minutes
Materials needed: --
Skill level required: --
Description: Form a pace line on the outside of the track. Skate at a moderate pace a good arm's length behind each other. The last person in line makes up a call (colour-number-verbal cue). The person in front repeats the call, then the next and so on until everyone has repeated the call. Once the first skater in the line made the call s/he takes off around the track and re-joins the pace line from behind. Then s/he makes a new call and so on.

You can increase the pace with every round. You should also change to non-derby direction halfway through the drill. Remind the participants to look back over their shoulder in the turns, towards the center of the track. The more experienced the participants are, the higher the call frequency and pace.

Variation: Form another pace line in the infield and zig zag the call across the track. Swap groups from inside to outside every couple minutes.

Additional notes: This is a good drill to take new and intermediate skaters' focus off their skating and getting them used to communicate calls and to look and listen for things around them. Also, this drill can be done while skaters are on the track.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Alternative names: Roller Dodge, Between Two Fires / Kahden tulen välissä
Objective: To get comfortable moving around on your skates; to improve your agility; to improve your reaction time; to practice playing both offense and defense at the same time (if playing with more than one ball)
Typical length of drill: 30 mins
Materials needed: Many cones or brightly colored painter's tape to mark out the different areas; one or more large, soft foam balls; 10 or more skaters divided into two separate teams
Skill level required: A command of basic skills is important so that no one gets injured
Description: Decide in advance if you will use one, two, or more balls in this game (directions below are for a game using TWO balls).

Make a large rectangle on the floor using your cones or painter's tape, and split the rectangle in half creating two facing courts.  The end zone behind each side of the court is "the field".    One player from each team is stationed in the field behind the opposing team's court (see illustration).  This way both teams are flanked by opponents on each side.  For the purpose of this explanation we will call this person "the cow".  Each cow gets a ball at the beginning of the game, and when the whistle blows, the cows are the first to start throwing the balls.  
Remember to always aim BELOW the neck when you throw the ball.

The object of the game is to hit people from the opposing team with the ball in order to send them to the field.  Once all members of one team are in the field, the opposing team wins the game.

The skaters who are on the court are allowed to catch and throw the balls as well.  If a ball is caught before it hits the ground, the thrower of the ball gets sent to the field.  In advanced game play, each time a ball is caught, a member of the catcher's team is simultanously allowed to return from the field to the court (you should decide in advance if you would like to play the game with this bonus, note that it makes the game longer).  Any time a ball hits a player before hitting the ground, that person is sent to the field.  This includes failed catches.  Players on the same team are allowed to pass the ball to one another, either by throwing or rolling (and you cannot send your own teammates to the field by doing this).  Players on the court are not allowed to retrieve balls from the field and players in the field are not allowed to retrieve balls from the court.  No one is permitted to retrieve balls from the opposing team's court or field.  Players in the field are allowed to pass the ball to the players on the court, and vice versa.

In the illustration below you will see that the field extends beyond the end zone to wrap around the courts completely.  Decide in advance if you wish to allow your cows to use the whole area around the court or only the end zone behind each court.

An illustration of a team of 6 yellow skaters playing
against a team of 6 green skaters, using an extended field.

Additional notes: Roller Dodge is an actual, legitimate sport, developed by Tom Green, a retired referee for the Dallas Derby Devils.  The version portrayed here in this drill is a bit different though, this one is based on a children's game.  I learned this one from my teammates in Finland and we had an incredible time playing it.  The game was not only fun but it was a great team builder, and I think this is an excellent way to do some bonding with the referees as they too like to have fun and they too need to work on their skating skills, agility, and reaction time!

Please note: This is a drill you can also do OFF skates!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

RMRG’s Blocking Drill

Tigre Force's guest blogging series: 5 drills from the Skater Progression Diagram.

Blocking: Positional and contact: RMRG's Blocking Drill

Alternative names: I bet this drill has a real name too, I learned it from the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls and so I named it after them
Objective: To keep the jammer behind a blocker wall of two
Typical length of drill: 20-30 mins
Materials needed: 8 cones
Skill level required: WFTDA minimum skills
Description: (see attachment)

The skaters are divided into four groups. Everybody gets to practice each position: inside blocker, outside blocker, jammer. The skaters form four lines inside the track on each turn. There are blockers in a line by the pivot line and jammers in a line by the jammer line. Both pivot and jammer lines are marked on each side of the track (four groups of skaters allow the skaters more time to practice this, since the rotation time is faster with more groups).

The blockers form a wall of two (on the pivot line on each side of the track), and their purpose is to keep the jammer behind them as long as they can. They should not pass the line marked by cones right behind the jammer line. If there is some heavy blocking, pushing or hitting involved, make sure the action ends at the cones, to make sure no one bumps into the jammers getting ready for their round.

Rotate the groups every 5 mins so that every skater gets to practice both blocking and jamming. The blockers should make sure they switch from inside to outside (and vice versa) on each round.

Additional notes: The drill probably has an official name. I didn’t catch it while skating with Rocky Mountain Rollergirls in August, 2011.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

If you can dodge a wrench...

Alternative names: --
Objective: Agility, balance, reaction time
Typical length of drill: 5-15 minutes (depends on the number of participants)
Materials needed: Four cones and 1 soft ball (or ball-like substitute, i.e. bunched up shirts or socks -- having to dodge your teammates' sweaty gear makes this drill even more effective)
Skill level required: None
Description: Mark out a medium-sized square on the floor with the cones. Each skater is going to stand in the middle of this square for 60 seconds (or until they get hit out) while the other skaters try to throw the ball at them. The skater's job is to dodge, duck, and avoid the ball, making this an excellent practice in balance, agility, and reaction time. If you want to make it competitive, time all of the skaters while they are in the middle to see who can avoid being hit by the ball the longest. Alternatively, create multiple groups of three and have two skaters on the outside of the square tossing the ball to each other while trying to hit the person in the middle. This way everyone can get more time inside the square, plus the skaters on the outside get practice as well. To challenge your skaters, shrink the size of the square.
Additional notes: This is a fun and easy drill that can really help people with their reaction skills and balance. I love sneaky drills like this where you are learning things without even realizing it. You are focusing so much on the ball and where it is being tossed that you forget your are on skates. This drill is appropriate for newer skaters, and it's also great if you're struggling with a small practice space!

If you like this drill, you might also enjoy dodgeball on skates!