Category Archives: Roller Derby

Plyometrics and sock derby

Our rec league, Internal Affairs, accepts new skaters at the first 2 practices of every month. These intake practices usually focus on basic on-skates skills – stops, falls, crossovers and all of the other little details that make an athlete proficient on her skates.

The problem with this structure is that it takes some skaters several months to actually play the sport – and as anyone who’s played roller derby can attest, you spend your first year of contact figuring out what you’re doing besides just turning left and bouncing off of people. We spend so much time teaching people to pass their minimum skills assessments that we don’t always get to teach them actual gameplay ‘til much later.

Then there’s the fact that many new skaters haven’t built up their fast-twitch muscle fibers yet.  Fast-twitch fiber is crucial for explosive, powerful movement, but it’s hard to develop those fibers on skates – your wheels don’t provide enough resistance with the ground to build the muscles you need to skate the way you want to.

So tonight, we did things a bit differently. I ran a full hour of cardio/endurance, plyometrics, agility, blocking/timing drills and scrimmage completely on foot.  Then we geared up and rolled for real for the last 30 minutes.

My thoughts: it mostly went exactly as planned. I had to cut the skating time a bit because we spent so much time offskates (I originally promised only 30 minutes on foot), but we needed it.  I watched lightbulbs come on over several heads as the stress of trying to figure out how to skate was removed and my girls could just concentrate on gameplay. Some of my freshest meat are the hardest hitters with the best timing when on foot!  It was enlightening and I can’t wait to try it again.

Here is the workout in its entirety.  Let me know if you have any questions or would like clarifications on any exercises or drills.

What you’ll need for this workout: a rink or other flat area to run across, preferably with a derby track already clearly marked; an agility ladder (if you don’t have one, you can use duct tape or chalk to make one on the floor/ground); shoes or socks you can run and hop in; jerseys and helmet covers.

Dynamic warm-up: neck/shoulder/arm circles, windmill toe touches, butt kicks, high knees, standing iron cross, inchworm/dogwalk series [toe touch, inchworm out to downward dog; alternate bending and straightening legs to stretch calves and hamstrings. Lift each leg and draw circles in both directions in the air before walking hands back in to toetouch, then slowly roll up, one vertebra at a time, ‘til you’re standing up straight].

Plyometrics and conditioning:

Side-step squats – step right and squat, back to neutral, then left and squat – repeat for 30 sec

Mohawk squats – legs wide, toes pointed out – down on a 2 count, up on 2 count for 30 sec

Crossover steps – (three lateral steps, then reverse direction by springing off outside foot) – start slowly, speed up – 30 sec

Speed skaters for 30 sec – mountain climbers for 30 sec

Agility ladder – one in, two in, two up one back, out in, ali shuffle (both sides)

Quick feet to burpee – jog down rink – quick feet to burpee – side shuffle back

Quick feet to burpee – skip down rink – quick feet to burpee – side shuffle opposite side back

WATER

Discussion and demonstration: legal blocking zones

Partner up for squat bumps – standing still, hip to hip – get low and pop up – 30 sec each side

Stagger partners so that one is behind and slightly to the side of the other – have partner in back step around partner in front, first gaining position, then using hip/booty to make contact – switch positions after a minute on each side

Blocking/timing drill: Snake line in center of track – person in back comes up outside and each person hipchecks them to outside – then hipcheck up inside – have them walking quickly with light feet (“scampering”)

Stop line – number off, grab jerseys and panties

Sock derby: 4-6 jams – play full 5 on 5, with penalties served by doing 10 push-ups, then rejoining pack  – stop in between jams to answer questions, repeat rules, etc

WATER

Put on skates

Partner snake drill: skate in pairs through double line, focusing on matching speed and timing your cuts – use verbal communication and touch your partner’s hips or thighs to stay close.

Blocking/timing drill: single paceline on track – skater in back comes up outside and each skater in line hipchecks them to outside – then come up inside – do both sides twice. Focus on not cutting the track as a jammer and staying in-bounds as a blocker.

Truck and trailer demo: how to swing off your partner’s hips to block jammer

Partner up – practice swinging off each other’s hips, skating around derby track (choose a couple of jammers to dummy-jam through a few times, then pass the panties off to another pair)

Cooldown laps – opposite direction

Cooldown stretch

Best Stretch Ever

I figured I’d ease you into my blog by teaching you one of my favorite stretches (look, if I went straight to spiderman pushups on our first day together, you’d probably close this tab and search for muffin recipes instead).  This is a great cooldown stretch after a derby practice or offskates workout – your hip flexors will thank you for it.

Anyone who’s ever skated one of my practices knows how much I love a good cooldown stretch. A cooldown stretch is much more important than you think – if you’re just hopping off the rink without giving your muscles time to slowly release some of that built-up tension, you’re putting yourself at risk for soreness, fatigue or injury.

This is my absolute favorite stretch ever – it targets your back, shoulders, hips and legs, plus it helps slow down your heartrate and breathing and gives you a nice warm fuzzy feeling. I’ve heard it called the Py-retzel, since the end result is rather pretzel-like. I try to do it at the end of every practice and I always hear such happy sighs all around.

How to twist one up:

Lie on your back, right leg straight and flat on the ground and bend your left knee, pulling it in toward your chest.  Hold it here for a few seconds, then open your hip a little and pull knee in toward armpit to get a deeper stretch.

Lift right leg straight up so that it’s perpendicular to your body and cross your bent left leg so your left foot rests over the top of your right thigh. Your legs will form a figure 4. With your left arm on the inside of your right thigh and your right arm on the outside, clasp your hands behind your thigh and gently pull it toward your chest.  You can bend your right knee a bit as you pull to get a deeper stretch through your hip.

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Release right thigh and lower leg to the floor.  Keeping left knee bent, gently twist your torso so that your left knee touches the ground next to the right side of your body. Try to keep both shoulderblades pressed firmly into the floor as you take a few breaths and allow your spine to release.  Straighten your body out, give your legs a little shake and repeat on the other side.

If you’re flexible and would like a deeper stretch, you can bend your bottom leg and catch the toes of your foot in your hand, using your other hand on the knee of your top leg to counter-balance the stretch.

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I usually follow this one up by rolling onto my stomach, pushing into upward dog, then pushing back into child’s pose for a few breaths before I take off my gear.  No matter how charged up I am from practice, my muscles and mind immediately feel more zen for the drive home.