Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Week 7 - Blocking

by Striking Dervish


In this last week of new skills, we’re finally getting into the best part!  We’ve waited until now because, it is necessary to be comfortable on your skates and skating around other roller derby skaters in order to safely perform blocks. We’ll go over a variety of ways that you can make contact with another skater this week, first covering all of the legal blocking zones.

Legal Blocking Zones

Legal Body Parts Used When Blocking: Any area from the shoulders down to above the knees, with the exception of the area of the arm from the elbow to the fingertips.
Legal Body Parts to Administer Blocks Against: Any area from the shoulders down to above the knees, with the exception of the spine.

Blocks

Shoulder Block

This is the first tested block that we learn and is a review from last week.  To administer the block:
  1. Skate side by side with the target, no more than one step away.
  2. Shift your weight from A-frame to centered over the leg closest to the target.
  3. Move your ribcage towards the target (as opposed to “tipping” over)
  4. Make contact with the target’s shoulder using your shoulder
Generally speaking, this is the most ineffective block on the track.  You will affect another skater more using your hips or the side of your body.  

Tri-Block

The triceps are legal to use against another skater.  We practice the tri-block from slightly behind and to the side of the intended target.  Lift your arm parallel to the floor, keeping your forearm and hand out of the way (might touch your opposite shoulder with your hand).  Then hit your partner’s shoulder with your tricep.  Ideally, you will want to use a body motion (similar to what was discussed for the shoulder block) to strengthen the block and “shove” your partner to the side.  Note that your elbow might move in the direction towards your partner, but you should never break a 90 degree angle with your arm (thus making contact with your elbow which is illegal).  It is best to keep your arm perpendicular to your partner’s side to avoid this situation.  If we practice control in our blocking, it will be easier to keep it legal in the less-controlled environment of game play.

Booty Blocking

Booty blocking is also known as positional blocking.  The person booty blocking is in front of the person being blocked and attempts to keep them behind by moving side to side.  Some tips for success:
  • Keep watch over one shoulder.  If the partner goes out of sight, you will still know that your partner has moved towards the other shoulder.  Flipping your head back and forth is a quick way to get faked.
  • Stay low, but do not bend over (keep your chest up).
  • Feet should be a bit wider than shoulder width, but not too wide that you lose agility with your feet.
  • Use snow plow motions to keep the pace slow.  If you are even able to make contact with your partner, this is ideal.  Contact means you not only know visually where they are, but you can feel where they might be going.
  • The quickest way to close off space is by leading with the booty.  
The person being blocked should practice never touching with his/her hands.  Instead make contact with legal parts (chest, pelvic area, thighs, etc.)

Hip Check

Hip checks are an effective way to impact an opponent’s trajectory and/or knock them down by hitting at the center of gravity.  There are a number of ways to approach a skater in order to block them.  In practice for a hip check, we often use a cutting motion around the skater and hit the front hip pocket with our hip at the end of the cut.  
We begin by practicing cutting cones again.  Remember to get low in the cut, hovering over the cone with your rear as if you were attempting to sit on the cone.  Also don’t forget to line your feet up with the foot closest to the cone in front.  Keep your chest up, butt down!  
Once we move back to partners, use the same cutting motion to cut around your partner, leading with the hip to hit his/her front pocket.  Other notes:
  • Hitting to the front pocket ensures that you have control of the opposing skater’s forward momentum.  
  • If you can work in a bit of a swing in the hip, you will have a more effective block.  
  • Try to keep your arm out of the way of the point of contact.
  • If you miss the block and end up in front of the opposing skater, this is also a success on the track because it can be turned into a booty block, even if it is not the skill we are working on.

J-Block / Hockey Block

In a J-Block we are hitting from the side or maybe slightly in front, but the main goal/difference from other blocks is the fact that we are hitting on the way up.  In doing so, you are lifting them upwards and messing up their stability.  To perform the block:
  1. Start from a half of a step away from your partner
  2. Lean slightly away from your partner
  3. Drop low into a squat (butt down, chest up)
  4. Come back up towards your partner, leading with the hip
  5. Make contact on the way up.  

Note that the drop and rise should make a J motion, giving the block its name.  It is
very important to hit on the way up on this block.  Dropping, coming up, and following it with a straight shoulder block is not a J-block.  Ideally, you are making contact with the full side of your body.  It may also come in the form of a hip followed by a shoulder.  Either is correct.  The most important element is hitting upwards.  

Shoulder Blade Block

Fountain City lovingly calls this block the “douche” block because it is reminiscent of a douchey person walking into someone on purpose.  The block is a shoulder “slap” on the opposing skater’s shoulder blade (if he/she is about the same height).  For height differences, it may be against a different place on the back, but remember which areas are illegal to hit against (i.e., spine and head). The skater performing the block is starting from behind.  To perform the block:
  1. While behind your partner, line up his/her shoulder with about your collarbone.
  2. Pull your shoulder back by turning your body.
  3. Turn your body the opposite direction forcefully to slap your shoulder against the skater’s shoulder blade.  

Some notes to consider:

  • The motion is a lot like a shoulder shimmy
  • A truly effective douche block is one that aims for the other side of the skater, not just the skater’s shoulder blade.
  • Do not follow through with your arm, making unintentional contact with the forearm/hand.
  • Motion can be downward for a taller skater working on a shorter skater (and is also effective for knocking a skater on his/her face!)
  • This block is not legal for an active jammer.

Pelvic Block

In a pelvic block, we are utilizing the legal blocking zones of the pelvic area (blocking with) and the buttocks (blocking against) to push an opposing skater forward.  These are most used when attempting to break up a blocking wall from behind.  To perform the skill:
  1. Make sure that you are in derby stance, and come close behind your partner.
  2. In a rocking motion, swing your hips forward to make contact.

Some notes to consider:

  • Do not stand straight up while attempting this skill.  This goes for both the blocker and the person being blocked!
  • To receive the block, make sure that your chest is up.  If you are leaning over, you are heading towards a face plant!
  • Using your upper thighs is also acceptable, and sometimes it will be necessary for height differences.
  • Blocking against one cheek as opposed to dead center is also acceptable.

Drag Block

A drag block is a method of moving a skater out of the way when starting from behind that skater.  This is not a strike as in the other blocks we’ve covered so far.  It is a sneak in and drag off.  The positioning can be tricky, so we practice this first from a stand still:
  • The person being blocked against should be in derby stance
  • While standing behind your partner, put one foot in between their feet. If the skater is shorter or has their feet together, you may also straddle.
  • Bring your arm to the side and in front of your partner either by snaking around them or windmilling your arm over the top.  
  • Drop LOW so that you can put your armpit into your partner’s hip or side and get your head in front of them.  Note that you will be leaning forward more than you typically would be in good derby stance, but it is also essential that you drop your butt as well.  Keeping your legs bent and butt low will encourage stability.  
  • Keep your forearm and hand away from your partner.  A good way to do this is by touching your hand to your opposite shoulder.  

To perform the block:

  1. Get into the position discussed while rolling.  Having your head in front is an important element for keeping control of the other skater’s front side.
  2. Move the foot that is away from your partner further in front and push on the inside edge.  This will steer both of you in the opposite direction.  
Drag blocks are most often used to move a skater from inside to outside the track, but testing either side is acceptable.  
Some safety points on this one:
  • To get out of the block, you will need to snake out in a similar way that you go into the block.
  • DO NOT STAND UP IN THIS BLOCK.  Because of the positioning, standing up would send the person being blocked against over your leg and onto his/her back or head.
  • Avoid pushing upwards with your arm for the same reason.

Drag Block Deflection

This transition skill is not easy and is only tested for Class 2 skaters.  Once a skater has you in a drag block, this is a method of getting out of it.  Simply put, it is a transition to backwards skating followed by a transition to forwards skating.  Here is the full breakdown:
  1. Once a skater makes contact with the drag block, pick up the foot furthest from the blocking skater and set it down in the mohawk.  You will be turning your back towards the blocking skater.
  2. Follow this by completing the transition with the other foot.  
  3. This transition removes us from the drag.  Ideally, the blocking skater’s momentum will continue in the drag direction.
  4. Transition again over the same shoulder to complete the 360 turn.  
  5. If the blocking skater has continued his/her trajectory, you can now skate up the track on their opposite side.  
Some skaters find that they have more stability doing the second transition by pivoting on their toestops instead.  This is not wrong, but we don’t often recommend this for brand new skaters who are still getting used to their toestops and transitions.

Pivot Block

This transition skill is not easy and is only tested for Class 2 skaters.  It is used as a method of getting around a skater.  Simply put, it is a transition, douche block, and another transition.  Here is the full breakdown:
  1. Approach the opposing skater from behind, lining up their shoulder with approximately your collar bone. You should be traveling just slightly faster than your partner.
  2. Once you are close behind, pick up the foot closest to your partner and set it down in the mohawk.  
  3. The rest of the transition happens just after you have passed his/her shoulder.
  4. With the same slapping motion of the douche block, hit the front of your partner’s shoulder with your own.  
  5. Transition again in the same direction (you will be making a complete 360 turn) to skate away from your partner.

Some notes to consider:

  • For the maximum stability and control of your partner, keep constant contact, rolling against him/her while transitioning around.
  • This is where it is extremely necessary to pick up your feet to complete the transitions.  Dragging them in a circle is a good way of running into your partner or not being stable.  
  • Pivot blocks are typically done on the inside (else you are potentially traveling more than 360 degrees), but testing on either side is acceptable.

Conclusion

When practicing your blocks, remember that you should try to remain in control of yourself at all times (engage that core and concentrate on your form.  Also remember for testing purposes that effectiveness is important.  All of us signed on for roller derby, which involves hitting other people on skates.  You must be able to prove that you can affect the other skater’s trajectory.
This blocking lesson completes all of the skills that are tested in minimum skills testing!  Congratulations on making it this far!  If you have any questions or concerns about any of these skills, please be sure to ask one of our trainers.  Good luck on testing!

Friday, October 19, 2018

MADE Rules Breakdown -- Topic Six


MADE Rules Breakdown – Topic Six

All the Extras

Taken directly from: SKATE MADE

Injury Procedure

Should a skater be injured during play, they should signal to the refs using a thumb up or thumb down. If signaling with a thumb up, they should pull themselves off the track, at which time, one of their teammates may line up for substitution. The replacement player may only enter when signaled by the nearest Outside Ref and from the rear of the Pack. When the injured skater signals a thumb down for a significant injury, or the downed skater is unresponsive, the nearest ref will signal the Injury Alert to end the jam with four short whistle blows. Injured player(s), who stop the jam, will not be allowed to return to play until the next period, or cleared by an EMT, whichever is sooner.


Cutting Track:

Cutting track is considered the act of skating out of bounds in order to reduce the distance one must travel around the track; or the act of skating out of bounds in order to advance position. Skaters are not allowed to cut track, but may advance position by jumping the turn as long as they begin and end their jump while in bounds. Lifting a skate to avoid being out of bounds is permitted.

 

Exemption for Active Jammers on Scoring Pass Only:

Active Jammers are exempt from cutting track in the Blocking Zone. Should an Active Jammer cut the track for any reason, they can either: pull up, let that Blocker(s) pass, re-enter the track and re-pass those players to be awarded points; or they may continue on, but without any points for the opposing players they passed while out of bounds. Active Jammers who continue on, and enter the Pack, having passed no opposing players in bounds, will not be allowed to signal the end of the Jam until they score a point on that pass.



Out of Play Rule

Any skater (excluding Active Jammers or Jammers making their first pass through the pack to become active) who are more than 20' away from the pack, out of bounds, or in the situation of a no-pack, are considered "Out of Play." Any skater who is on the ground (any body part other than skates touching the ground) is considered Out of Play. Out of Play skaters must yield to Active Jammers or be issued a penalty.

 

Blocking zone: Opposing players may engage each other in the Pack and within 20' in either direction (ahead of or behind) the Pack. Any player outside of this zone is not considered in play (except Active Jammers), and therefore not part of the Pack. Active Jammers are considered part of the pack anytime they are within 20' of other players. Out of play skaters can neither assist nor block.

 

Once an Active Jammer has exited the Blocking Zone, opposing players, with the exception of the opposing Active Jammer, may not engage them, or hinder their progress, until they are once again within 20' of the Pack. Blockers who chase the Active Jammer past the Blocking Zone will be issued an Out of Play penalty.

 

If there is "No Pack" as signaled by the Pack or Head Ref, you have dead play. During dead play, skaters, cannot engage nor assist. Active Jammers may still engage other skaters, but not assist during dead play. During Dead Play or an evenly "Split Pack" players must actively reform the Pack within the parameters indicated by the Pack or Head Ref, generally the centermost mass, and are to resume normal play when signaled to "Resume Play" by the Pack or Head Ref. Failure to reform the pack will result in an Out of Play penalty for all skaters involved. In a No Pack situation, a Pivot may still break.



Gear

All players must wear quad skates, helmet, mouth guard, wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads. Any loose or ill-fitting equipment must be taped or adjusted. Skating officials must wear helmets and knee pads -- mouth guards, wrist and elbow pads are optional, but recommended.

 

Team uniforms are determined by color uniformity, not style uniformity.

 

Only officials may wear black and white striped tops.





 

 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Week 6 - Paceline and Pack

by Striking Dervish
Skating in and around other skaters is a learned skill.  Before taking the track, we practice this in the form of paceline and pack drills.

Paceline Skills

Paceline Skating

As each person works on their tested paceline skills, all other skaters in the paceline will need to practice keeping a proper paceline moving.  Remember what we learned last week: 
  1. Stay one arms length behind the person in front of you
  2. Modify your stride/crossover slightly to keep your feet from kicking the person behind you
  3. Stay in derby stance
  4. Use t-stops / snowplows when necessary to slow down
  5. Use quick feet to speed up when necessary
  6. If you fall out of line, get back to the line quickly

Paceline Weaving

Weaving through the paceline starts with the rearmost person in the line.  The skater will approach one side of the next forward skater and cut in front of them, skate forwards on the opposite side of the next skater and cut in front of them.  Progress continues back and forth through the entire line.  Things to keep in mind while weaving:
  • Remember your edges, and cut hard to cross the paceline quickly
  • Keep knees soft to keep your balance
  • Once you have passed the line, turn your feet back straight so as not to drift away from the line
  • Once you have reached the front of the line, you will likely need to slow down (t-stop or snowplow) slightly to match the line’s pace again
While in the paceline, do not slow down to let someone by.  It is the weaving skater’s responsibility to cut through the space, and slowing down with mess up the pace of the rest of the line.

Paceline Hip Assists

In a similar weaving pattern as the above drill, we practice our hip assists in the paceline.  This is the same skill we practiced last week with a partner:
  1. Approach directly behind
  2. Grab at the hips
  3. Pull inwards and then to the side
Remember: you are taking the other skater’s momentum from him/her, so he/she should slow down from your performing this skill.  Avoid pulling downwards (and thus pulling the skater down).  
For skaters in the paceline: be ready in a good derby stance.  The hip assisting skater should be slowing you down, so once they pass, pick up your feet to quickstep back to the original pace quickly.

Paceline Hopping

Again, in the same weaving pattern, we hop through the space between skaters in the paceline.  Remember the elements of hopping that we learned in Week 3:
  • By hopping, we mean leaving one foot and landing on the other.  
  • In order for it to be considered hopping and not stepping, there should be air space under both feet at one moment of time.  
  • Be sure to take off of a bent knee and land on a bent knee.
Once the hop is complete, you may set down both feet to reset yourself before the next hop.  

Pack Skills

Leaning

Roller derby skaters engage other skaters on the track all of the time.  To increase our ability to skate around other skaters and begin making contact, we practice “leaning” while skating with a partner:
  1. Hold the arm closest to your partner across the front of your body, exposing the side of your body.
  2. Center your balance over the leg closest to your partner.
  3. Make contact with your partner all of the way from the shoulder to the hip
  4. Paddle the foot furthest from your partner to keep momentum going.
Remember that both skaters must be in derby stance!

Shoulder Block

This is the first tested block that we learn.  To administer the block:
  1. Skate side by side with the target, no more than one step away.
  2. Shift your weight from A-frame to centered over the leg closest to the target.
  3. Move your ribcage towards the target (as opposed to “tipping over”)
  4. Make contact with the target’s shoulder with your shoulder
Generally speaking, this is the most ineffective block on the track.  You will affect another skater more using your hips or the side of your body.  We will get into more blocks next week.

Wheel Bumping

Purposefully bumping wheels on the track is not legal, but it can happen.  To test a skaters stability, we test reaction to wheel bumping.  With a partner, gently “kick” the other’s wheels.  Remember that you must be in derby stance for the greatest stability.  You may also need to think about engaging your core.  


Booty Blocking

Booty blocking is also known as positional blocking.  The person booty blocking is in front of the person being blocked and attempts to keep them behind by moving side to side.  Some tips for success:
  • Keep watch over one shoulder.  If the partner goes out of sight, you will still know that your partner has moved towards the other shoulder.  Flipping your head back and forth is a quick way to get faked.
  • Stay low, but do not bend over (keep your chest up).
  • Feet should be a bit wider than shoulder width, but not too wide that you lose agility with your feet.
  • Use snow plow motions to keep the pace slow.  If you are able to make contact with your partner, this is ideal.  Contact means you not only know visually where they are, but you can feel where they might be going.
  • The quickest way to close off space is by leading with the booty.  

Skating as a Pack

Skating in a pack is a bit different than regular skating.  You will need to modify your stride and crossovers to minimize foot motion so as not to trip those around you.  Often you will be utilizing watermelons, leaving all eight wheels on the floor.  You should be able to touch at least two people at any given time.  The pack will often speed up and slow down, and just as in the paceline practice, you should be utilizing derby stops and quick feet to match the pace changes.  It is extremely important to remain in derby stance in order to deal with any falling skaters.  


Unexpected Obstacles

Roller derby skaters find unexpected obstacles (fallen skaters) on the track all of the time.  The most advantageous reaction is to avoid the obstacle and continue skating.  Methods of avoidance include: cutting, jumping, hopping, quick stepping, transitioning, etc.  We practice and test a skater’s ability to deal with unexpected obstacles by skating in a pack and having skaters from the front of the pack fall small.  The skater should avoid the obstacle and return to the pack as quickly as possible.  Remember to stay in derby stance to ensure stability.

Conclusion

It’s very important to learn how to safely skate around other skaters prior to really getting into the best part of roller derby next week: BLOCKING!

Friday, October 12, 2018

MADE Rules Breakdown -- Topic Five


MADE Rules Breakdown – Topic Five

Penalties

Taken directly from: Skate MADE

Penalties are to be served as they are called by the Officials, and only while jam clock is running. Offending skaters go directly to the penalty box in the center of the track to serve their time. Penalties begin to be served when, and only when, the skater is seated in the box. The skater must return to the track from in front of the penalty box only. Skaters must enter at the rear of the Pack and yield to passing referees. The "Rear of the Pack" is from the last person in the Pack extending to the end of the rear Blocking Zone. Only two skaters from each team may be in the box at once. Should a third (or more) player from a team commit a penalty, they will continue play until a seat frees up in the box.

 

Should the Jammer’s penalty time carry over to the next jam, the offending team starts with a substitute Jammer, but skates short, until the penalized Jammer finishes serving their time and returns to play as a Blocker. 

 

Should a team have more than five players on the track at the start of the Jam, fail to line up Pivot or Jammer, or more than one player wearing a Jammer or Pivot helmet cover, they will be issued a Team Penalty. At instant of team infraction, the Head Ref will signal the end of the Jam and the team must choose one player from the track to immediately serve the penalty. The teams will then line back up and the Head Ref will restart the jam.

 

Penalties will be signaled by any ref using two short whistle blasts. Penalties may be awarded between jams. Warnings may be issued at the ref's discretion.

 

1 minute penalties

False start

Cutting Track

Out of Play

Illegal Contact or Maneuver

Insubordination: Failure to comply, return to the bench, or unauthorized contact with officials (must be a Captain, Manager or Coach) 

 

2 minute penalties

Excessive Force

Team Penalty

 

Automatic Ejection
Abusive language or behavior to opponents, officials or audience. Exceeding 5 minutes of accrued penalties. Should a player commit a sixth penalty and be ejected from the game, the respective team must choose a substitute player to sit their final penalty.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sore vs. Hurt vs. Injured

by Mojo GoGo


You are about to become an athlete. Wait! Don’t freak out and run away. It is okay, it won’t happen overnight. And we will help you.

You will not be expected to bench press 250lbs and run a 4 minute mile on the first day. Probably not the last day either. But you are starting a journey that will change you. For some of you, this training may not be too strenuous at first. Perhaps you already work out on a regular basis. For some, this will be a whole new world of physical effort, not to mention a test of willpower.

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Photo By KC Derby Digest
While being athletic will help you during this training, willpower and determination are what makes you a roller derby skater. As Rocky said, “It ain’t how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up.” And you are going to fall a lot, because falling means you are pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and improving your skill. It also means that you are exposing your body to soreness and possibly getting hurt or injured.


Being sore after a workout is normal, it means you are pushing yourself a little further than you are used to. Your muscles respond to vigorous use by secreting Lactic acid during a workout. Lactic acid is what makes your muscles feel like they are burning while you are skating. Upping your exercise is what causes “micro tears” (these are considered a good thing in building muscle and are not to be confused with a large scale tissue tear which is an injury) in your muscles which, in turn, is what causes soreness after working out. One of the reasons you need to drink a lot of water and sometimes replenish electrolytes after skating is to help wash away the Lactic acid your muscles have expelled and help the muscle healing/inflammation process that occurs in the next 24-48 hours.


Once training starts, even if you already have a consistent workout regime, you will find that there are some derby specific drills that make your muscles sore – especially the muscles you didn’t even know you had! You might be tempted to skip Wednesday practices if Tuesday practice made you sore. We encourage you not to do this! First, you only get 2 chances to attend practice a week and skipping Wednesday practice takes away half of your opportunity to improve your skills. And second, you can work through the soreness by exercising the second day. The body is an amazingly adaptive structure that acclimates quickly to your new fitness level. Soon you will find that the muscle soreness and congestion is less and less after every work out, and you look forward to the second consecutive day of practice.


However, it is important to recognize the difference between normal soreness and a potential problem. You will no doubt wrestle with some issue or another connected with beginning a new exercise regime. The key is recognizing when you should push through and when you should stop, and you are the only judge on that. If something is sore, try to push through, but if you feel a sudden or sharp pain, or something that does not go away with rest, get yourself checked out.


The next level above soreness is being hurt. Hurt is generally short lived but intense. Hurt is different than sore because it is not a natural part of working out. Hurt means something has gone wrong temporarily, but you can probably treat it yourself. It hurts when you fall on your knees and the knee pad has slipped so instead of landing on padding you land on hard track, or perhaps you unintentionally land on your own skate. It doesn’t feel good and it causes you to stop and take a minute to recover but it generally won’t put you out of skating for the rest of the practice, or if it does, you will feel better pretty quickly and be back at practices soon.


Injured is different situation. Injured means something has gone wrong and generally has long term ramifications. Injured is a concussion, broken bone, torn ligament or the like. Injured puts you out of practice for more than a few days. You probably don’t need to be told that if you think you are injured you need to seek qualified medical help.


There is a fine line between hurt and injured and sometimes hurt starts out feeling like injured and vise-versa. The key is to listen to your body and know yourself. If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is and it is in your best interest to get it checked out. Better to be safe and catch a problem early when it can be handled on a small scale than to ignore the problem and have it turn into something that keeps you off skates for an extended time.


Be safe on the track! Make sure to give yourself a break when you sense that something doesn’t feel right. Don’t hesitate to let your coach or trainer know what is going on and ask for assistance if need be.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Making Endurance Yours: Mind over Matter

by Sissy Facecheck
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Ask a vet how to get through the endurance portion of skills testing and the advice you receive will differ depending on the person.  Like derby, there is no one-size-fits-all way to get through the 20 lap endurance test.  Below, you will find some basic tips from experienced vets ranging from technical to mental to cross-training.  Consider it all, try it all, then use what works for you.  

Technical Tips: Try these first!  These tips are meant to help lay the foundation of good form and speed.  They will help reduce the risk of injury, give you more speed with less effort, and build confidence in your stride.
  1. Get low and use long, full strides – long, full strides may sound counter-intuitive but it’s not.  The lower you go, the deeper you push into your strides, the more power you will get.  Short, choppy strides may keep you moving forward but it will be at a slower, more labor intensive pace.  Watch skaters like Tenacious V or Jam Pa.  Their strides are deliberate, slow and smooth, more like a glide than a step.
  2. Move your feet – When you stop moving your feet, you lose momentum.  When you start moving your feet again, you have to work to gain back that momentum.  Focus on crossing over in the turns and keeping your feet moving.  Combine this with tip #1.  
  3. Skate the Diamond –  hit the apex and outside the straights. Just as important, pick a smooth line between those points. 

    from RollerDerbyAthletics.com
  4. Swing your arms to help gain momentum
  5. Clean your wheels.  The less dirt and grime on your wheels, the more productive they are for you.  You’re less likely to slip and slide into the turns.  And, when you feel stable on your feet you feel more confident in your cross-overs.
  6. BREATHE! In through the nose, out through the mouth.
Cross-training:  Most athletes will tell you, cross-training is an important component.  You can work and strengthen muscles you don’t normally use in your sport of choice, you can build up speed and endurance, strengthen your core and your quads; the benefits go on and on.  
  1. Some of the league’s best players swear by stair sprints and running.   To start, try running at a moderate pace for 2 minutes, then sprint for 30 seconds.  Repeat for 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, and so on.
  2. Take a class a couple times a week:  Yoga, High-intensity interval training, cardio.  It all helps to up your game and give you an edge.
  3. Plyometrics or Jump training:  You can do this at home 5-10 minutes a day.  Burpees, Jump Squats, Skater Jumps the list goes on.  These exercises are designed to build strength and endurance by using explosive bursts of energy in short amounts of time.
Mental Tricks: Derby is 90% mental.  The can-do attitude will most likely give you the edge you’ve been looking for.  The 20-lap endurance test is daunting.  It pushes your mind and body to go when all you want to do is stop.  If you let it, endurance will show you exactly what you are made of and how much farther you can go than you actually thought.  To get out of your head and into the zone, try some of these tricks….
  1. Get a rhythm going.  Count your strides or your breaths.  How many does it take to make 1 lap?  Keep that pace!  Don’t focus on sprinting, focus on pace.
  2. Break those laps down into chunks.  Don’t count 20, count 5, then 5 more, and so on.
  3. Hit open skates with a four minute song.  Challenge yourself to 20 laps before the song ends.
  4. Find a solid skater and keep pace with her (or him).
  5. Be the Little Engine that Could – i think i can, i think i can….
  6. Be positive, expect only your best from yourself!  Don’t get angry or upset if the first time doesn’t pan out.  Derby is about progress.  Just keep going, keep moving and eventually you will get there!
The endurance test doesn’t have to be scary!  Set your goals, come prepared, and celebrate finishing 20 laps!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Week 5 - Assists and Crossovers

by Striking Dervish
This week we start skating near other skaters and make contact for the first time in the form of the friendly assist.  All of the skills you have been working on up until now have been preparing you to be a good skater, but roller derby’s challenges include how to deal with other skaters around you, and this is what we start to touch on this week.

Paceline Skating

Pacelines are our first practice for skating near someone for distances, simulating what happens on the track.  It takes some adjustments to skate in close proximity to other derby skaters in order to keep from tripping each other.  We are also working on our endurance at this time.  
Some things to keep in mind:
  1. Try to stay one arms length behind the person in front of you
  2. Modify your stride/crossover slightly to keep your feet from kicking the person behind you
  3. Stay in derby stance!
  4. Use t-stops / snowplows when necessary to slow down and not run into the skater ahead of you
  5. Pick up your feet in a stepping/running motion (without kicking outwards!) when needed to catch up to the skater in front of you
  6. If you fall out of line, try to get back to the line quickly
Assists 

Pushing

Pushes are extremely useful for helping your teammate move to a new position quickly.  Generally speaking, you have more momentum than the person who is receiving the push, and you are giving him/her that speed.  Examples of when you might use it:
  • Pushing your point scorer past an opposing blocker.
  • Helping your teammate move forward in the pack.  
  • Pushing a teammate into or towards an opposing skater to make a block you can’t reach.
We practice and test this skill from behind the skater who is receiving the push.  In motion, you will perform the following:
  1. When the skater is within arm’s reach, grab them on either side just above the hips, with the thumbs lying across the hip bone.
  2. Continue your skating momentum towards the other skater while your arms collapse into your own body. Making contact prior to fully reaching the skater will also allow for him/her to know that you are about to give them a push.
  3. Once your arms are fully bent, push outwards fully, keeping your arms parallel to the floor (don’t push upwards or downwards).
Both the giver and receiver must  be in derby stance for the entirety of the skill.  Ideally, the receiver also skates out of the push to utilize the new speed.


Hip Assist

Hip assists are beneficial when you need some assistance in speeding up (the person being assisted is actually the one initiating contact).  To take a hip assist off of your teammate:
  1. Approach from directly behind
  2. Grab at the hips
  3. Pull inwards and then to the side
Remember: you are taking your teammate’s momentum from him/her, so he/she should slow down from your performing this skill.  Both skaters must be in derby stance to give or receive.


Standard Whip

Whips are another method of offering your speed to your teammate.  Typically, it is performed by a blocker to a point scorer to assist him/her getting through the pack or getting them moving quickly from the front of the pack to his/her jammer lap.  It usually utilizes the whipper’s right arm (keeping in mind the direction of skate).
Person giving the whip:
  1. Hold your arm directly behind you, parallel to the floor.  Your palm should be downwards, and your hand should be closed.  
  2. Once your teammate has a secure grasp of your wrist (you should feel a slight tug), move your arm around your body to the front, keeping it straight and parallel to the floor throughout.  Note that the motion happens with a full torso turn.  You should not be solely using your arm or you risk strain on your shoulder.  
  3. Use your knuckles to point towards the direction you want your teammate to go.  This is where your arm should stop.  In order to point your knuckle, note that you will need to keep your arm straight in front.
Person receiving the whip:
  1. Grab the whipper’s wrist underneath with your left hand and on top with your right hand.  The whipper’s closed fist should act as a stopper to keep you from slipping off.
  2. Pull his/her fist towards your chest and lean back slightly.  
Please note: The MADE standard whip is slightly different than a whip taught by WFTDA


Standard Whip Up w/ Push-Out

The standard whip with a push out starts the exact same way that a standard whip does.  However, instead of completing the full whip motion, we stop about halfway through and switch to a push.  The transition between whip and push will have to be quick.  Some skaters utilize a windmill motion with their right arm over the teammate’s head to get into position quickly for the push.  Don’t forget the proper hand placement of the push.  If you rush too much and push in the wrong spot or wrong direction, you are liable to push your teammate down.  If you are receiving the whip, make sure you don’t hold on longer than necessary!  
A possible application: you have started a whip but realize that an opposing blocker has gotten in the way of fully executing the whip.  Instead, you decide to push your teammate out of the way of this blocker.  


Around the World Whip & Push Out

Around the world whip and push out starts the same way as the standard whip.  In the same manner as the standard whip with a push out, we stop the whip halfway, but this time we grab our teammates hips to pull him/her to our left side in order to form a two wall.  Again, be careful of hand placement, and receivers should not hold on to the whip longer than necessary.


Half-Spin/Waitress Whip

A half spin utilizes the motion of a transition to give the power for a whip.  To give a half-spin whip:
  1. Start by skating backwards away from your teammate.
  2. Offer both arms with palms upwards (like a waitress holding a platter).
  3. The receiver will take hands (wrists if possible, but may not be possible due to wristguards).
  4. Continue holding arms outright while transitioning from backwards to forwards.
While practicing this skill, you may be going at a slow pace and therefore may stop on the track.  For the sake of practicing a legal maneuver, you’ll want to speed up as you are comfortable and practice not stopping on the track since making contact with even your own teammates while stopped on the track is illegal.


Full-Spin Whip

A full spin is given when the faster skater is coming up from behind the skater needing an assist.  To give a full-spin whip:
  1. Grab your teammate’s right hand with your right hand.
  2. Transition from forwards to backwards, ending in front of your teammate.
  3. Grab your teammate’s left hand with your left hand over top of your right hands which should still be clasped.  (Your arms should now be crossed with lefts on top).  
  4. Transition again to complete a half-spin whip.
Note that the person taking the whip never turns.  Essentially, their only part is clasping your hands and taking a half spin whip.  If you are receiving the whip and end up pulling your partner prior to the ending half spin, you may pull him/her off balance, and the skill will not likely be practical at full pack speed.


Crossovers

We continue our work with crossovers to make them as efficient as possible for endurance.  This week, we want to really exaggerate our push and underpush.

Wall Push

To get the idea of what the push and underpush should really look like, we work on wall pushes.
To simulate the push:
  1. Stand with your left side facing the wall and your left foot approximately one foot away from the wall.
  2. Lean your left shoulder against the wall.
  3. Extend your right leg away from the wall as far as you can and place all four wheels of the right foot on the floor.
To simulate the underpush:
  1. Stand with your left side facing the wall and your right foot approximately one foot away from the wall.
  2. Lean your left shoulder against the wall.
  3. Extend your left leg behind your right leg and away from the wall as far as you can and place all four wheels of the left foot on the floor. (Note that it is important to extend away from the wall.  Your foot should not be behind you).
For both of these, note how much you are leaning on the edge of the skate closest to the wall.  This is also necessary for your crossovers as is the lean towards the center of the track.

Exaggerated Crossovers

Now that you have an idea of the positioning, attempt to exaggerate your crossovers and hit these positions around the apex of the track.  Remember to really dig in with the outside edge of the left skate and the inside edge of the right skate while extending the other leg fully.
To force more use of your edges and crossovers, we add a counterweight with someone holding on to your right arm around the turn.  You will have to lean in and dig into the floor with your edges in order to stay on the track.

Conclusion

This is a fun week!  Assists by nature are helpful and can provide some necessary speed at opportune moments.  And really getting your crossovers will help you immensely with your speed around the track.
Next week we’ll start getting more into our paceline drills as well as pack skating, getting us one step closer to skating around each other on the track!

Week 7 - Blocking

by Striking Dervish In this last week of new skills, we’re finally getting into the best part!  We’ve waited until now because, it is nec...