Monday, December 9, 2013

Musical Stops

Alternative names: --
Objective: Stopping on command in small spaces; pacing
Typical length of drill: 10 mins
Materials needed: Varies -- I use a track that is permanently laid down and create "boxes" between 10 ft -markers, but you can also choose to create boxes elsewhere in your space, and depending on your skaters' skill level they can be either large or small boxes.  At the very least you will need either chalk, masking tape, or cones to mark out the boxes that you will want your skaters to stop in.
Skill level required: Safe stopping and falling skills

Description: For the original version of Musical Stops you will need a laid out track with the 10 ft -markers included.  Use chalk, cones, or masking tape to mark out the boxes.  What I'm referring to here are small areas in which your skaters will be required to stop.  For my freshmeat, I mark out five 10 ft -boxes as in the illustration to the right.

Now comes the fun part: While you play music, the skaters skate around the track in a counter-clockwise direction.  Each time you abruptly stop the music, the skaters come to a complete stop within one of the boxes on the track.  The last person to come to a stop within each of the five boxes is out of the game (this is on the honor system, people).  If a skater is all by herself in a box, s/he can remain in the game.  The game is over when you decide--I usually end it when it's clear that the five people left on the track have set a pace that allows each of them to get to a box by themselves when the music ends, but, what you can do alternatively is reduce the number of boxes once you get down to the same number of skaters as there are boxes, and from here go with the traditional musical chairs -route: The last person standing wins.  Depending on the skill level of your skaters this can be a fun way to end it.

If you have really skilled skaters, this game can be adapted and made more challenging:
  • Mark out the boxes in different parts of the space
  • Don't dictate what direction skaters can skate in
  • Reduce the size of the boxes
  • Increase the number of boxes while limiting the number of skaters allowed per box like traditional musical chairs
  • ALL of the above as in the illustration to the right

Additional notes: This is a really fun drill that I came up with while training the freshmeat in Boston.  I really like to always end every practice with a game that uses the skills we've practiced over the course of the three hours, because games (and especially competitive ones) gets the skaters to think about the object of the GAME and not about their feet.  This one is good for pacing and stopping in short distances.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Director and Her Extras

Alternative names: --
Objective: To practice being a leader and a follower on the track, to practice physical and verbal communication, to improve team-blocking skills
Typical length of drill: 15-20 mins
Materials needed: A full taped-down track
Skill level required: Skaters must be cleared for contact

Description: Create three lines of skaters at turn four. The first line will be for the Director, the second line for the Extra, and the third line for the Enemy. Skaters should make sure to rotate through the lines during this drill so that they get to work on being BOTH the Director and the Extra.  On the whistle the first skater in each line will skate out (you can also choose to have the Enemy come in one second later than the Director and the Extra).  The Enemy's job is to play stupid and permit the Director and the Extra to do their job over the course of one lap.  In this drill the Director will use the Extra to positionally and physically block the Enemy. S/he will be pulling, pushing, grabbing, and directing the Extra.  The Extra's job is to be a rag doll, to let herself/himself be moved around.  For her/him this is an exercise in being flexible on the track.  I mean, how many times have you tried pushing a teammate into the opposing jammer and found that your teammate is so committed to her current position that she is an immovable piece?  This will teach the Extra how to be steady on her skates while still being jelly-like enough for her teammates to use her/him and move her/him around.  The Director should use the time wisely, be active the entire time, and not just save up for one good hit.  S/he should be constantly hitting or positionally blocking the Enemy.  The drill ends once the group of three skaters have completed one lap.  As you progress through this drill and get better and better at it, allow the jammers to use more and more force and brains to get out of the situation.  This drill should challenge the Director and the Extra, but not be so impossible that they aren't getting any practice out of it.

Additional notes: This is a drill that we ran quite a few times with Team Finland back in 2011 to improve our communication and team work.  We worked on this drill in conjunction with the Two-Point Touch drill, a similar drill that can also improve communication and team-blocking skills.

A lot of people wonder about multi-player block penalty possibilities when they hear about this drill and the Two-Point Touch.  I would like to address that by saying that Practice Makes Perfect.  You can avoid MPB penalties by practicing this over and over and over again.  Your body will learn how to use your hands without incurring MPB penalties.  It's the same with most other drills -- there will always be a chance for penalties, and some drills / moves / strategies are more prone to one kind of penalty over another, but the more your practice, the more you can work on executing your plans within the boundaries of the rules.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wolf Pack

This drill is a reader submission from Elsie Thudd, formerly of Steel City Roller Derby, and currently coaching their brand new junior derby league, the Pittsburgh Derby Brats.

Alternative names: One Man Wolf Pack
Objective: To be able to trap and slow a player down, to be able to work with partners/wall to slow down a pack or player, to able able to effectively communicate with your teammates, to learn how to break through walls.
Typical length of drill: Customizeable
Materials needed: A delineated track and 5+ skaters
Skill level required: All, this can be tweaked to be non-contact if need be, but will work with contact as well.
Description: This is a variation on tag.

One person is designated "IT." We like to make it a surprise. We have all of the girls close their eyes and we tap someone to be "IT." 

Everyone begins by skating on the track in derby direction. When she is ready, the "IT" sets out to trap and slow someone down. When she accomplishes this, that person becomes part of her "pack." Then they must work together to trap and slow the next person, who will then join their pack. This continues until they have a pack of 5. Communication is key once the pack forms to identify their target and execute a coordinated attack. For the skaters trying not to get caught, it is an excellent drill for breaking through walls and getting unstuck. When we've done this, magic happened on the track with the free skaters banding together and creating strategies to disorient the wolf pack so they could all get through. It is a great way to practice stop derby and how to counter stop derby and how to counter counter-stop-derby strategies.

  • The trapped skater is considered in the pack when the "IT"/wolf pack has legally blocked and slowed her down for 3 seconds. 
  • If a penalty is called on a free skater, she must exit the track, do a lap on the outside, and re-enter behind the wolf pack. 
  • If a penalty is called on a member of the wolf pack they lose a member.
  • If a penalty is called on the "IT" before she acquires a pack, she forfeits her "IT" status.
  • If a member of the wolf pack goes rogue, or the pack gets separated/split-up/forgets they are a pack, they forfeit a member. 

Make it harder:
  • If the "IT"/wolf pack traps and sends a skater out-of-bounds, she may only become part of the pack if they effectively pull her back at least 5 feet....10 feet? 
  • Put a time limit on how long the "IT" has to pick up her pack. 
  • Only allow positional blocking!

Additional notes: Elsie says, "While conducting performance reviews with my brats I got a lot of feedback that led to [this] drill. I think it would work well for both juniors and freshmeat/rookies. Or all levels just for fun. It seems a little complicated now that I've written it down, but the girls absolutely LOVED it."

Friday, June 14, 2013


The following drill is a guest post by coach Nadia Kean (aka "Smarty Pants") of the Texas Rollergirls.

Alternative names: --
Objective: Jammer endurance, playing clean, Blocking: holding a block in a very tight pack, avoiding the need to reset to get more space
Typical length of drill: --
Materials needed: A track, a jammer cover, a stop watch, a ref (if possible)
Skill level required: Skaters should be contact cleared unless you use positional blocking only
Description: This drill was created for a few reasons. The first, my team needed more endurance in the pack. My team also needed to stay clean, even when up against massive walls. My blockers needed to stop running forward when opponents played offense against them. They needed to hold a block for as long as possible, even when their opponent was crowding their space, making it very hard for them.

Set up: pack with as few as 5 will work, but really about 7 or 8 would be best. Have 2 skaters start on the outside of the track, with the remaining skaters starting on the inside of the track. One person on the track will be designated the Jammer. Everyone else on the track is her opponent. The two people starting off of the track will be skating laps around the outside of the track around 85-100% of their ability. Of the two people starting off of the track, one will be the next jammer. The other person is pretending that she just jammed. The whole group will go for intervals. I recommend 60-90 seconds. During the set time frame, the jammer will try to get through the pack, the pack will try to shut her down and the two skaters on the outside will skate laps. As soon as the set amount of time is up, the person who just jammed will start to skate laps, along with the person who wants to jam next. The two skaters who had just been skating laps will jump back on the track. One of them will now be a jammer, the other will now be a blocker (pretending like she just completed he post-jamming laps). While in the pack, blockers should really try to block the jammer while also being completely crowded for space by the other pack skaters.

Additional notes: To see more of Smarty Pants' guest posts, click here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Zombie Tag

So it seems like zombies are the "new" thing. There's zombie this and zombie that, not the least of which is the very popular tv series The Walking Dead. There are a few games on All Derby Drills that are based on the classic game of tag which are very good for warm ups at the beginning of practice.

Alternative names: --
Objective: Get your skaters warmed up for practice. Work on teamwork. Practice putting on the helmet covers while skating.
Typical length of drill: 15 minutes max
Materials needed: Plenty of Pivot and Jammer covers
Skill level required: Basic skating skills. Comfortable in skates.
Description: If your league is like mine, you have a bag full of jammer (JC) and pivot covers (PC). We'll use the JCs as the zombies and the PCs as the survivors. Split your skaters in two equal groups and have them start at the walls of your rink or skating space. I put one group at either end of the length of the rink. Before you start scatter the PCs around the rink. We have a five foot cinderblock wall running around 3/4s of the rink so I put them on top at random places. Give one skater a JC. She'll be the first one "infected". Take the rest of the JCs and stand off to the side. Blow a whistle to start. Whomever the zombie tags, they're now infected and will turn into a zombie. The newly infected will skate over to you, grab a JC, and go out and make more zombies. Once all the JCs are gone, blow four whistles to stop. Now you have a bunch of zombies and a few survivors. Have the zombies line up in the middle of the rink, and split the survivors into two groups, just like at the start of the game. Blow a whistle to start. Now the survivors have to skate out and grab a PC, and when they have a PC on (not in their hand) they can commence to slaughtering zombies. When a PC wearing survivor tags (kills) a zombie, that zombie falls down and stays on the track as an obstacle. The game is over when all the zombies or the survivors are killed. If you can, as an added bonus, play the theme song from the Walking Dead. The skaters will love it.

This is a good drill for teamwork. When I first ran it everyone was out for themselves during the second half and the zombies would always win. Eventually they would team up and make a big group, protecting one or two people who could then grab a PC.

It's also good practice for the mysterious and rare star pass. It's not easy to put a helmet cover on while skating away from a creature trying to eat your brains.

Additional notes: This is another drill written by our guest blogger, Brawl-n-Order.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Classy Dinner at 7-11?

You've done it. I've done it. I mean really, at some point or another we have all done it. AND, from my experience working as a health coach to derby skaters world wide, many athletes grab dinner at the convenience store more often than not. We run into 7-11 and grab god knows what from frozen pizzas to the questionable tuna fish pita pockets to a Snickers bar or a Power Bar (which has about the same nutrition value as a Snickers bar BTW). We shove it in our face in the car and then get to practice and SURPRISE! We feel like crap. 

Guess what? As an athlete, you are now responsible for what you put in your mouth.Your body is a machine and, as a roller derby athlete, you expect a lot from it. So if you expect to perform, fuel it properly. The skill of pre-planning your day comes with time and habit and a little bit of nutrition know how. I have written a load of posts on here about pre-game meals and proper hydration and all that fun stuff so be sure to get back and read them! Today, we are talking about pre-planning and strategies for success.

Most of us walk out the door in the morning with NO PLAN as to what we are going to eat for the day. As you have heard 100 times in your life for many different reasons, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. When I talk to my clients about pre-planning, the first thing I usually hear is "But Krisssyyyyyyyy, I have a jobfamilykidsresponsabilitesneedtosleepinwatchtvgethometoolate! I CAN'T possibly remember to pre-plan my meals every day!"

Well, here is the deal my friends: YOU CAN if you decide its important to you. Once you have decided that yes, you are sick of dining out at AMPM or swinging through the McDonald's drive-through, then read on for 7 tips and tricks to pre-plan daily so you can feel AWESOME on the track every night!

1. Plan 5-6 small meals for your day
Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks every day. 
Each meal/snack should be a good balance of 1/3 lean protein and 2/3 complex carbs

My day goes like this:

BREAKFAST Formula 1 shake (come on, who REALLY cooks breakfast? And if you are opting for instant oatmeal or carb-y cereals you probably are crashing mid morning)
SNACK mid morning: Usually greek yogurt or deli meats or nuts for protein paired up with a fruit or veggie
LUNCH: Meat and veggies. Usually chicken or turkey over spinach or with broccoli and 1/2 an avocado.
SNACK: Same as in the AM. Today it was a handful of walnuts and some ground turkey that I precooked this week with onions and bell peppers.
DINNER: On practice nights I drink a shake on the way to practice. No one really wants to be burping up dinner all through practice do they? This is also a great way to get easily absorbable nutrients.
POST PRACTICE: Protein and carb for recovery. I either drink a Rebuild Strength shake or I come home and have some MEAT (yes I am a massive carnivore...I even named my dog Meat!) This is him. 

2. Use similar ingredients
I like to keep using the same ingredients but mixed around to make different meals to avoid massive shopping lists. Veggies can be eaten raw as snacks, or stir fried with protein for a hot meal, or made with eggs or added to a salad! My staples are spinach, bell pepper, broccoli, red onion. A few simple ingredients mixed together in different ways can make a variety of yummy meals...I mean look at mexican food. Its basically beans, rice, veggies, and meat mixed together a hundred different ways. 

3. Have a few simple go to meals and snacks
Easy go to snacks help to keep pre-planning low maintenance. Single serving greek yogurts, almonds, or string cheese are good for this. BEWARE: Treats that say "100 calorie pack" THIS DOES NOT MEAN ITS HEALTHY. It just means they are only giving you 100 calories worth of crap.

4. Have a shopping day
I shop on Sunday night for a week's worth of food. This may take a little practice to get the right amounts of everything but once you get the swing of it, your life will be SO MUCH EASIER!

5. Have a cooking day
This is the same day as shopping day for me. I literally cook about 6 lbs of meat at once (to support my 170 lbs of lean mass!). I will pan fry a bunch of lean turkey meat and bake some chicken. Then pop it all in the fridge and use it for salads and wraps or snacks throughout the week.

6. Pack your meals at night
Pre-pack! If you are not a morning person pack your meals/snacks at night. If you are not a night person pack it in the AM but either way, get in the habit of packing a lunch bag...yup, "thanks for the sac lunch," ice pack in the insulated bag PACK YOUR MEALS!

7. Do this for 21 days in a row and it will be a habit!
Bottom line is, we are all busy but here are things we habitually do every day or week no matter what and if you can do those things (ahem, watch your favorite TV shows or shower) then you can learn to pre-plan!

As always, if you have any questions about what to eat or when to eat it or why I love all this stuff so much or you want a free nutrition evaluation or you want to know anything about supplements, Herbalife, or the meaning of life you can reach my at and I would be glad to help you out!