1 October 2011

Fast starts

Jamming or blocking, being able to pull out a fast start can open up many opportunities. There are lots of different ways to start, and I have listed 2 of my favourites - the Down Start for jamming and the Up Start for blocking. Ready?

Down Start - for Jamming
This start is very similar to the start a sprinter uses. It's kind of complicated to explain only using words, so picture a sprinting start when reading this!
  • Place the toe of your right leg stopper down just behind the start line. Drop your left knee to touch the ground just behind the start line
  • Balancing with your left hand, extend your right arm behind you, staying in line with your back
  • On the first whistle, raise your left knee so you are in a half-crouch, balancing on both toe stoppers, leaning forward
  • On the second whistle sprint: take 3 running toe stop steps, then splay your feet outwards into a duck run for a few steps, then sprint as usual
Up Start - for Blocking
  • From your position behind the starting line, get up on both toe stops, staggering your feet with (preferably) your left leg behind, keeping your knees and hips bent and slightly facing towards your back leg
  • On the whistle sprint: take 3 running toe stop steps, then splay your feet outwards into a duck run for a few steps, then sprint as usual
 To Run as a Drill:
  • While stationary, run the skaters through the motions of each start
  • For the Down Start, place a pair of skaters on each side of the track where the jammer line would be positioned, with other skaters queued behind them off the track
  • Blow an initial whistle to queue when they are to change positions, then a few seconds later blow their second whistle
  • As the skaters complete the lap, come off the track and join the back of their line
  • For the Up Start, you can continue to run it in this format; alternatively place 8 skaters at a time behind the pivot line to simulate doing this start in a pack

24 September 2011

Aerobicise Derby Style

Get out your lycra, this is a warm up that will touch the heart of any lovers of the 80s! Suitable for first time skaters through to pros, this will increase stability on skates and help build and tone a wide range of leg muscles used in various stances.

  • Arrange your skaters in an aerobics class style layout - standing in rows, with approx. 1 metre spacing each way, with everyone facing you
  • Before you begin, explain that this drill is about stepping, not rolling. There will be opportunities to get vocal in this drill; the louder the better
  • Explain the motions as you are performing them with the skaters
  1. Get in derby stance, extending your arms out the the side with your elbows bent, hands pointing up - we call this 'cactus pose'. Keep the chest open and strong
  2. Take 4 steps to the right. Put your weight over the right leg, lifting your left leg with the knee bent
  3. Take 4 steps to the left. Put your weight over the left leg, lifting your right leg with the knee bent
  4. Duck down, pop up to the left, duck down, pop up to the right. Call out 'down', 'left', 'down', 'right' as you move. Repeat 5 times
  5. Touch the floor with both hands, then jump with both feet
  6. 'Grid Iron feet' - quickly lifting your feet alternatively in a wide stance (think of Grid Iron players shuffling on the spot). You want your steps to be quick and light, transferring your weight from one leg to another
  7. Lift left knee high, then right knee high. Repeat 3 times
  8. Grid Iron feet, this time being as quiet as possible. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet
  9. Grapevine 6 steps left, then 6 steps right. Stay low, try and keep your height consistent throughout the movement
This is a basic version of this drill - you can add all sorts of movements like Burpees, and repeat any elements you find particularly beneficial. For more experienced skaters, get them to focus on the action and improve their control, speed, quickness, accuracy etc.

17 September 2011

Stay Low

Think your derby stance is low? Get ready to get lower! Low skating can be used to reduce your legal target zones, increase your stability and make your height compact. Use it to sneak past a giant blocker, brace against a big hit or prepare for a killer can opener.

  • From derby stance, bend further at the hips, knees and ankles so your chest is resting against your knees
  • Slightly lift your chest up so your head is upright and facing forwards
  • To check you have the position correct, you will be able to rest your elbows in FRONT of your knees
To make this a drill, go through the above technique with your skaters while stationary, then spread them out on the track to do a few laps in this stance. Encourage them to try different things in this position - sticky skating, fast speed, hugging the inside line, and lateral turns to see what difference it makes for them.

A great way to incorporate this stance into every training session? Whenever you see a skater standing tall (no longer in derby stance), tell everyone to drop their butt 5cm (2 inches). And keep reminding them anytime anyone gets tall.

14 September 2011

Situational Scrimmage

Scrimmage is an essential part of a training plan - it allows skaters to work together on the track to try out all the skills they have been practicing, test out different strategies, and learn how to work with their team. Situational scrimage takes it to the next level by giving one team a goal or tactic for each jam.

There are almost endless suggestions for what instructions you can give to a team; these are ones I have used and found to be very helpful. Only give instructions to one team at a time, to allow the other team to watch and respond accordingly.

  1. Everyone but the pivot plays defense
  2. Force the jammer out of bounds and stop to make them enter behind you
  3. Control the front of the pack
  4. Get your jammer through on the inside
  5. Aim for 3 jammer assists
  6. Push an opposing skater out of bounds 3 times
  7. Slow the pack at the start of the jam
  8. Allow the opposition to hold the front and try and force them out of play
  9. Make a wall of 3 at the front
  10. Trap one opposing player and come to a crawl
If you have any situational scrimmage suggestions that work well for you, please leave a comment to share with others

27 August 2011

Pivot Point

Learn to control your pack speed by letting one skater set the speed for the whole team.

22 August 2011

Hold Up

Hold up the jammer as they come through by controlling your speed and working with a partner. This is an endless jammer drill that will help keep over-enthusiastic chasers in check.

13 August 2011

Evading Can Openers

A few weeks back, I posted a how-to for killer can openers. This week, let's look at what to do when you are on the receiving end of one and how to avoid feeling the pain.