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 ZonesLegal 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.
Shoulder BlockThis is the first tested block that we learn and is a review from last week. To administer the block:
- Skate side by side with the target, no more than one step away.
- Shift your weight from A-frame to centered over the leg closest to the target.
- Move your ribcage towards the target (as opposed to “tipping” over)
- Make contact with the target’s shoulder using your shoulder
Tri-BlockThe 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 BlockingBooty 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.
Hip CheckHip 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 BlockIn 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:
- Start from a half of a step away from your partner
- Lean slightly away from your partner
- Drop low into a squat (butt down, chest up)
- Come back up towards your partner, leading with the hip
- 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 BlockFountain 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:
- While behind your partner, line up his/her shoulder with about your collarbone.
- Pull your shoulder back by turning your body.
- 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 BlockIn 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:
- Make sure that you are in derby stance, and come close behind your partner.
- 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 BlockA 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:
- 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.
- 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.
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 DeflectionThis 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:
- 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.
- Follow this by completing the transition with the other foot.
- This transition removes us from the drag. Ideally, the blocking skater’s momentum will continue in the drag direction.
- Transition again over the same shoulder to complete the 360 turn.
- If the blocking skater has continued his/her trajectory, you can now skate up the track on their opposite side.
Pivot BlockThis 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:
- 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.
- Once you are close behind, pick up the foot closest to your partner and set it down in the mohawk.
- The rest of the transition happens just after you have passed his/her shoulder.
- With the same slapping motion of the douche block, hit the front of your partner’s shoulder with your own.
- 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.
ConclusionWhen 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!