Practice Drills

Strategy and Game Play Practice Drills

Below drills for practices to develop skating skills, strategy and game play that were used by Aloha City Rollers league.

Warm up: “The Pack Is Here”

The coach skates in the center of the track and holds out their hands using the referee hand signal for “the pack is here”. They move forward and backwards and the skaters must maintain the pack (within 10 feet). Skaters stop quickly to move forward and backwards using mohawk, plow, and tstops. This teaches skaters to stay within a pack and to quickly reform a pack. It also helps them to practice stopping quickly and change direction.

Offence & Defense

It is more important to stop the opposing jammer from scoring points then for your jammer to score points.

  • When both jammers are in the pack the blockers from your team should focus only on stopping the opposing jammer. Work together and form walls to control the opposing jammer. When the opposing jammer is out of the pack but your jammer remains in the pack then your blockers should help their jammer to get through the pack.
  • If your blocker knocks the opposing jammer out of bounds they should run back to make the jammer have to go back and enter farther behind the pack. The blocker must stay within 20 feet of the back of the pack or they will become out of play and the jammer can just re-enter.
  • It is not always effective to just knock the jammer down or out of bounds. It can be more effective to form a wall or completely surround the opposing jammer and box them in to slow them down and keep them in your control.

Jammer Line Up with a Blocker Crunch

When lining up on the jammer line try to be the first jammer to the line and take the outside line position. This will force the opposing jammer to line up on the inside. You can even crowd them to make them go close to the inside line. This will most likely cause most of the opposing blockers to line up in front of their jammer to help them get through. Your team blockers should put one blocker close in front of the opposing blockers on the inside, in a wide stance, to control them. The rest of your blockers should take the outside area to the side of the opposing jammers and in front of their jammer. When the start whistle blows the blockers on the outside should block to the inside opposing blockers causing them to crunch together and even fall down in front of their own jammer, blocking their jammer. The blocker who was in front of the opposing blockers stays there controlling them and holding the opposing jammer back. Your team jammer should be able to skate towards the outside line where there should be an opening and no opposing blockers.

Lead Jammer Advantage

If you are the jammer for your team and you get lead jammer status for a jam use it to your advantage.

  • If the opposing jammer catches up to you as you approach the pack call it off immediately. It is better for neither of you to score points and move on to the next jam then for you both to score equal points.
  • If you are the lead jammer of a jam and the opposing jammer is far behind you or stuck in the pack then make it through the pack, score your points, and then call off the jam. You can win a game 4 points at a time if the opposing team never or seldom gets to score.
  • If the opposing jammer is in the box and you get lead jammer status keep scoring points until you see the opposing jammer standing up in the penalty box for the final 10 seconds of their penalty then call it off. This will give your team an advantage at the start of the next jam because the opposing jammer will be starting in the box. That will give your jammer more of an opportunity to get through the pack with the help of their blockers at the start of the next jam and be declared lead jammer.

Lone Jammer

Jammer works by them self to get through a wall. Rather than coming at the wall straight on come at it from the side with a shoulder to the ribs or butt on the skater who is sticking back the most. This will split the wall and the jammer must be ready to quickly change direction and go through the hole. This can also be done with a “jammer helper.  See below.

Jammer Helper

The jammer follows closely behind their helper. The jammer helper creates a hole by coming at the wall from the side with a shoulder to the ribs or butt on the skater who is sticking back the most. This will split the wall and the jammer must move quickly to get through the hole. It is important the jammer follow the helper very closely.

Intentionally Destroying the Pack

The rules state blockers do not have to skate backwards to reform the pack. If there is a no pack situation the blockers in the back must skate forward immediately reform the pack.

You cannot yell out for your teammates to stop causing a no pack situation. If your team of blockers skates at a normal pack pace and the opposing skaters skate off faster they will be who will be penalized for skating away and destroying the pack. You can’t stop or slow down but you don’t have to speed up if they accelerate.

Blocker Teamwork

  • It is very important for blockers to ALWAYS work with at least one partner.
  • Use the back of your hand on your partner’s thigh to be able to feel where they are and when they move so you can stay with them without looking at them. This allows you to keep your eyes on what is going on around you.
  • When forming a wall with your partner not only touch shoulder to shoulder but hip to hip to make tight walls which are hard to break.
  • When you work with a partner if your partner gets knocked out of bounds you can then knock the person out who knocked them out and then your partner can just come back in. If the person who knocks a skater out of bounds goes out of bounds themselves or falls down then they skater does not have to come in behind them.
  • If your partner gets sent to the penalty box or you get separated find another partner or partners immediately. Do not try to be a lone player. You are more effective working as a team.
  • With a partner you can stabilize yourself using your partner when making a block as long as you don’t use what you are stabilizing yourself with to initiate the block. For example if your partner is in front of you and you hold onto their hips and then use your hips to check someone you will be able to keep stable and the block is legal. However if you are holding their hips and use your arms to block that is not legal.
  • With 1 or more teammates you can make a medial wall (single file line). Then sweep to one side or another like a paddle to block. This is much more effective than 1 person doing the block. The key is for each person in the medial wall to be close to the person in front of them. If you use your hands on the hips of the person in front be sure to only do this on the opposite side of the skater you are trying to block so you do not create a multi-player block penalty.

Get a Goat To Control the Pack

A way to control the pack is to capture one of the blockers from the opposing team and keep them with ALL of your team. The pack is the largest group of skaters consisting of both teams so if all of your blockers stay together and you capture 1 of the opposing team the pack is with you. The blocker you capture is referred to as a “goat”.

  • You can use this technique to speed up the pack by pushing the captured blocker forward. This is a good move when you jammer is in the penalty box to keep the pack moving fast. Moving the pack fast makes the opposing jammer work harder and helps to run out the clock until your jammer gets released from the penalty box.
  • You can use this technique to slow down the pack by holding the captured blocker behind or moving very slowly. This is very useful when blockers from the opposing team are chasing your jammer. Once the opposing blockers are more than 20 feet from the pack they will be out of play and must let your jammer go. Using this play is more practical and effective then if your blockers rushed up to help your jammer which keeps your jammer in the pack and engagement zone longer.


Use your shoulder in a downward twist and snap motion to hit an opposing player’s shoulder or hip. This can be very effective in throwing a forward leaning skater down. It is not a common hit so it often surprises your opponent when you use it. It is a legal hit as long as you hit them in the legal target zone. It is also very effective to use this in a combination hit. First this shoulder hit then immediately follow with a forward pelvis thrust to their side or another should check.

Cool Down

Skate 26 laps in a paceline in the opposite direction counting out loud each lap. At the end of the last lap everyone planks along the inside line and one skater at a time does a lap in the opposite direction then joins the end of the line. Everyone remains in a plank while their teammates do their lap. After everyone does their lap do 5 push ups as a group.

When a passing shower puts a stop to practice it’s time for off skate training.

Suggestions for New Skater Training

The purpose of New Skater Training is to teach skaters who want to play roller derby the skills they will need to pass the minimum skills demonstrative test. There are typically three groups of new skaters at the roller derby training. Those who want to become skaters but have no skates, skaters with skates but very little if any skating skills, and skaters with skates and some skating skills. Below are suggestions on things to implement in your training when working with each group.

Brand new skaters with no equipment waiting on their equipment to come in.
This group is lead in off skate training which focuses on working out the core, skater stance, endurance, and balance. Below is an example of exercise that can be done during off skate training:

1. Wall sits – at least 10X 60 seconds. Target = Quads and booty
2. Lunges – at least 80. Target = Quads and booty
3. Straight/ bent leg lifts (standing) – hold for 1 minute ea. 4X each side. Target = Hip flexors
4. Straight/ bent leg lifts (lying on your side) – 100 reps each side. Target= Adductors, lateral oblique
5. Straight/ bent leg lifts (on your back) – 50 reps. Target = Hip flexors
6. Squats – at least 50 reps. Target = Quads, booty, calves
7. Side squat – at least 40 ea side. Target = Quads, booty, calves
8. Figure Skater (leg behind, leg and back parallel to ground) – hold 1
min ea, 100 reps.  Target = Lower back, booty
9. Derby Position – 90` hips, bend knees, shoulders back, head straight ahead – hold 2 min 4X. Target = Quads, booty, calves
10. Crunches – at least 300. Target = Abdominals
11. Push ups – at least 40.  Target = Pectorals, triceps, deltoid
12. Monkey swings – 50 sets. Target = Quads, booty, calves
13. Fire hydrants – From hands and knees- keep knee bent, lift leg to the side and back down…repeat. Target=lower back, hips, booty. 50 sets. Target = Lower back, hip flexors, quads, hamstring
14. Skydivers – From laying belly down, bent leg 45 degrees at the knee – lift arms and knees off the ground and back down…repeat. at least 100. Target= back, hamstring and booty.
15. Leaps – Side to side, don’t swing your leg. From derby pose. 50 leaps. Target= quads and booty.
16. Cross Leaps – Derby pose, left leg pushes toward right as legs cross land on right foot and return to Derby pose. 50 leaps. Alternate to the left and right. Target = groin.
17. Outriggers – On one knee, other leg out to the side. Swami arms. Booty to heel, (torso stays straight over booty) and up to hips over downed knee. 50 reps. Target= quads and booty.
18. Fast feet – Derby pose, up on your toes, feet up and down rapidly. Perform this for 4 minutes. Target= Legs
19. Balance on one leg as long as possible – shoot for 5 minutes
20. Stretch, breathe deep, and relax from head to toe

Skaters with little to no skating experience.

These skaters require a lot of patience and understanding as they are just learning. You will spend a lot of time going over and over the same basic skills.

Work to teach the very basics of propelling one’s self on skates. Have the skaters skate across one end of the track back and forth.

Since they will still not be very stable on their skates once they get the hang of skating start teaching them 2 knee fall and 1 knee fall. Teach to fall forward rather than back.

Teach stopping techniques of t-stopping and snow plow stopping.

To help them with their balance have them skate across the track on one foot, then come back on the other foot. When they first do it just have them lift their leg slightly. Then as they gain confidence and ability have them lift their leg behind them like a figure skater.

Have them skate with all their weight on one leg, then all their weight on the other leg.

Have them hop from one skate to the other.

Teach them proper derby position of bent knees and flat back. Have them practice skating in this position.

Once skaters have these basic skills down they are ready to skate with the more advanced skaters.

Skaters with some skating experience.

These are skaters that are comfortable skating and should have a basic knowledge of t-stopping and snow plowing.

Teach sticky skating and practice weaving through cones.

Teach whips- hip whips, belt whips, arm whips, shirt whips.

Pace line drills- weave from the back to the front through the pack, weave from the front to the back through the pack, hip whip through pack, arm whip through pack.

Lap the pack- form a pace line from slowest to fastest and each person lead 4 laps then lap the pack to the back. Continue doing laps until everyone has lead the pack.

Teach how to properly do booty pushes by skating up directly behind skater then do a full arm extension push. Another booty push exercise is do push cart races.

Teach how to do side pushes used to push a member of your own team into an opposing team member.

Go over 2 knee fall and 1 knee fall and teach new falling skills of 180 degree fall, touch and go 1 knee fall on each knee, figure 4/baseball slide, and 4 point fall. Skaters should not use hands to get up for any fall except the 4 point fall. They also need to get up within 2 seconds of coming to a stop.

Blocking drills teaching positional blocking, booty blocking, stalling, snow plowing, wall blocks, waterfall blocks.

Checking drills teaching shoulder checks and hip checks. Also teach what counter moves can be done for different checks.

Practice skating in a pack while sticky skating in derby position.

Practice giving and receiving hits.

Practice giving and receiving whips and pushes.

Endurance skating – time skaters doing 25 laps, 50 laps, 100 laps.

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