Drill and Drill Again… Again

It’s been a long day and the post I hoped to get out earlier is–well, here.  Late.  Crazy late.  And I’m typing like made ’cause I’m on a time table.  So bear with me…

I talk a lot about derby practice.  I even show you video of what I do.  But what does practice really look like?  I mean, how does it come out in the long run?  What exactly do we do when we’re in skates and geared up?

Glad you asked.

Last Wednesday I manged to get some great GoPro footage of our practice.  Not just a few things here and there, but damn near the whole thing.  And I thought that rather than give long explanations of what’s going on, I figured, “Why not show what I go through?”

So this is what you’re getting.  Basically, this is all the practice–save for the cardio warm up, which was 40 laps and about 12 minutes of fast skating–that I experience, as seen through my eyes. You’re also going to hear what I hear and pick up on some of the instruction that’s given to help me improve.  You also get to hear some of the shit we talk back and forth between us, which can be somewhat amusing.

Let’s begin.

Part of this you’re already seen.  This is a long drill where we weaved up through a pack, then weaved back, then shot up the outside to return to the front.  Like I said, it’s long, but then so are all these videos.  This, like a lot of the things we do, is a timing drill:

 

You’ve also seen a little of this:  the blocker/jammer pace line where one person blocks the way through the pack so the jammer (your partner) can get through.  This is where I fell and someone tripped over me, but that was as shortened version of this drill.  Here is the full one, and it’s–you guessed it–long:

 

Here we get into our blocker/jammer drills, going two-on-one and three-on-one against a jammer.  This is where I’m told on several occasions about things I’m doing wrong and how to correct them.  The guy giving the instruction is a ref, Ted Nuisance, and he’s really, really good at what he does.  A lot of stuff happens fast–you’ll see:

 

This is an extension of the three-on-one drills, with us adding a pivot, who is on the same side as the jammer.  The idea here is for the pivot to move blockers out of the way and help the jammer get through the pack.  That’s why you’ll sometimes see a person with a stripped pantie on their helmet moving people aside.

 

 

This was something that Bi and I got into with Mary–she’s in the white helmet–explaining how bridging works and how to use it to run a jammer way back away from the pack.  She wasn’t present the day we practiced bridging, so this was her chance to learn.

 

There you have it: quick, dirty, to the point.  Don’t have to read much, just put on the video and watch me go crazy.

Or maybe you’ll feel like joining me…

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Drill and Drill Again

In the parlance of a time gone by, I am burning the candle at both ends.  As of last night I’d attended five practices in six nights and last night I felt it all:  no energy, no strength, no nothing.  I made it through the evening, but only by doing simple stuff I need to develop for certification.  No shame there: it happens.

One of the reasons for feeling this way has to do with the practices I attended on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.  Video is coming for Tuesday night, but today you get a real good first person look at my Monday night practice, because I had the GoPro fired up and sitting pretty on the helmet.

Let me take you though an evening…

First up is cardio.  I edited this video as cardio lasted 12 minutes.  What we did was this–  First, it was skate 5 laps, then stop and do 5 push ups, then follow that with 5 squats.  And when you finished the squats, repeat the whole sequence until the 12 minutes were up.  For the record I did 21 laps, 20 push ups, 20 squats, all of which you get to see from my point of view, including the floor going up and down as I do push ups.

 

This is the longest of the videos here because this was one of two pace lines I did that night.  It runs long because we skated about 30 laps, or just a little more than a mile.  Since we did two of these that means we skated two miles, and when you add in the cardio laps the total comes closer to 2.75 miles.  I think with all the skating we were pretty close to three miles on Monday night.

 

You’ll see me get knocked out of line at least once: that’s because I took a good hit and was sent flying.  It happens to a couple of other people, too, and it’s one of the reasons I was sore on Tuesday and unable to go to work.  That and the videos that follow this one.

You’ll also hear a lot of calling out and talking, because that’s how we’re supposed to be when we’re in a bout: shouting out instructions to our teammates.  While skating and pushing.  And while you have a mouth guard in place.  Yeah, easy as pie.

 

This was the only video that survived the line spin/apex jump part of the drill.  Unfortunately I can’t see if I’m recording or now, so I have to hope I have the camera in record mode.  The only thing that survived was this spin where I go between the outside line and a cone and spin around the moment I reach the cone.  Later I actually managed to cancel out the spin and skate away backwards, but not in this video.  I also didn’t show an apex jump, which involves jumping over the inside line in order to get away from blockers on the inside line.  Maybe next time.

 

Now we come to the blocking and jamming.  This video shows an example of how this drill should go, as I was standing on the inside of the track watching this go down.  What my teammates do when they come back towards me is known as bridging and designed to keep people in contact with the pack while, at the same time, forcing the jammer to run way back from where they were knocked out and return to the track. (In the rules the jammer has to return to the track behind the player who knocked her out.  If that player is forty feet away, they have to skate back in the out-of-bounds area forty feet before reentering the track.  Otherwise the jammer gets a cut track penalty and spends 30 seconds in the penalty box.)

Then I go up, as jammer, against a block.  Most of what I do is push them down the track before going out, but afterwords Mary, Panzer, Smack (the women from left to right), and I discuss what happened and discuss a little of what to do and what not to do–like, don’t grab an arm, because it can lead to a penalty and other things…

 

And here are those “other things”… this is what my arm looks like after the Wednesday night practice, showing what happens when you grab:

 

Lastly I went out and jammed again three experienced players, aka the OG.  As you see they spend time knocking me out and forcing me to come at them again, but eventually the drill is called and we go back to let another group try.  While inside my coach Blade comes over to talk about what I’m doing.  She told me Wednesday night she thinks I’ll eventually take over her position on the team, being the one who is big and has the power to hold a block and jam through one if necessary.  Considering she’s retiring at the end of this season, she probably believes I’ll do this next season, and really, I hope that happens…

 

Now you know why I’m tired and sore.  And tomorrow you get to watch me crash and burn…

Working Through the HARD Times

Remember how I may have mentioned that I was sore Tuesday?  Yeah, that was due to Monday night practice that worked out butts off.  At the time I thought I couldn’t feel any worse–

That’s because I hadn’t went through Wednesday night’s practice.

Of late the practice work has stepped up.  We were told Monday night that we’re going to start working a little harder so us fresh meat can get better at what we’re doing.  And by getting better, that means we can play faster.  Given that a lot of the stuff we’ve stared doing involves scrimmaging–playing blockers against jammers–it doesn’t take a great leap of faith to see what’s happening.

Last night was a lot of cardio and line work.  I mean like a lot of line work:  there were about a dozen of us to do pull throughs and we averaged about a lap and a half for every person to wing through the whole line.  For pull throughs we went three times, so a lap and a half times twelve times three is fifty-four laps, plus we did hip checks which we did twice each for another thirty-six laps, with our at-the-start pyramid sprints adding another nineteen laps for a total of approximately one hundred and nine laps–

Before we got to scrimmage.

Oh, and we ended the night skating forty laps in a pack, so it’s a good bet we did between one hundred and forty-five to one hundred and fifty laps last night.  When you figure we likely skated about one hundred and ninety feet per laps, we covered a distance of about 5.4 miles, or 8.7 km.  Yeah, lots of skating.

Now, about this scrimmaging…

We were once again working on bridging much like we did the Wednesday before.  However, we weren’t quite as sharp as we were that night and things were a bit more disorganized as in we didn’t hit our marks the way we did that first night.  When I blocked I didn’t do as well, but that may have been due to being tied by that time.  I went down more than a few times and had people wiz by me in an eye blink.

But I was also jamming and I did a little better.  Well, I did great against the freshies.  In fact I have video.  In this case there are three freshies on the track and one veteran OG player.  So getting through wasn’t bad.  Oh, and need I mention:  there’s some swearing.  Yeah, it happens.

The Good Jamming.

 

But with the good comes the not-so-good, and a bit later I was pitted against three OGs and a freshie and the vets kinda showed me what it was like to be a jammer having to move a little over five hundred pounds of women who don’t want to move:

The Hard Jamming

 

Notice I was either knocked down or went out of bounds, or both, and came at the pack four times, huffing and puffing like crazy the whole time.  I figured I skated about three hundred and fifty feet and likely pushed the pack around for about a third of that distance.  When I stopped at the end I had nothing left:  I was getting light headed and things were going a little gray.  I didn’t think about it at the time–mostly because I was damning myself for stopping–but those claps at the end were for going back even when it was obvious I was tired.  Sometimes that’s what it’s all about–

Though when we were leaving one of the refs stopped, looked at me, and went, “Don’t quit!”  I don’t know if she meant don’t quit on the track or don’t quit what I’m doing–

Maybe I’ll just do the same for both.

A HARD Day’s Night

Yeah, I ripped off a song title.  Sue me.

As you may have heard because I mentioned it a few times, yesterday was my first home bout with my team, the Harrisburg Area Roller Derby, aka HARD.  We were up against the Bux-Mont Roller Derby Dolls from Hatfield, PA, which is a community north of King of Prussia and about a two hour drive from us.  We’ve been looking forward to this bout for a while–okay, I’ve been looking forward to this bout, because this is my first home game, and home is where the HARD is, right?

This was also the first game we played with our sister team, the York City Derby Dames out of York, PA, which is about thirty minutes south of us.  Four members of their team came up to join in the fun:  Klutch, Ruby Wrecker, Pair O’Docs, and Devour, and when the time comes we’ll likely head south–or wherever–and do the same with them.

I arrived before 4:30 and helped with track setup, assisting in laying down the outer line for the track.  After that I was over to my little raised platform near the scoring/NSO (Non Skating Officials) tables so I could film the bout.  Yes, once more I was getting video for tonight’s bout review; yeah, I’m a hard worker; yeah, I don’t have a girlfriend.  What does that tell you?

I also took photos, so kick back and enjoy.

First, here’s a panorama of the rink:

 

The two white lines to the left are the pivot line (closest) and the jammer line (furthest).  The blue line beyond the outer white line is the outer area where the refs skate.  From my position you notice I saw the start of each jam coming right at me.  Also, yeah:  the rink looks like it hasn’t moved out of the 1970s.  Which is okay because that’s when I did most of my skating.  I know, I made a funny.

While I was waiting for things to start I went around and got photos of team members:  some getting ready for battle, some doing things like working the merchandise table, and others done with their jobs and waiting for the game to start.

Ms. Smackman

 

Tenacious T

 

Anita Blades on the left

 

Nelson Slamdela (left) and team captain Redrum Doll (right).

 

Rivers Cowgirl

 

(left to right), Wyld Kat, and Fresh Meat Laura and Resi.

 

Fresh Meat Erica (left) and Bismashual (right).

 

Devour (left), Dirty Girl Scout (right), Coach Ida Hit That with Tenacious T photobombing (center).

 

Preparing to pace line practice.

 

Take off practice.

 

Preparing for introductions.

 

I shot a lot of video for the game, but I’m not releasing it as we do bout review tonight and I’m keeping it on the low.  And I filmed our introduction because this is how it happens at nearly every game:

 

We didn’t win:  we actually lost by a great deal.  And we lost Redrum Doll for the next month:  she went down during the game with what appeared to be a sprain but it turned out she had torn ligaments in her ankle from a month before, something I learned today.  But by next game we should have a new place on the roster and another coming back, and Red should be ready for our next home game in October.

Even so, she managed to get Best Blocker for our side, with Klutch getting Best Jammer, while Poptart was Best Blocker and Julia Bullya Best Jammer for Bux-Mont.  And even though we lost, we had a good time as did the other team.

Best Blockers and Jammers as picked by the other teams.

 

Both teams together.

There you have it:  how I spent my Sunday afternoon and evening–and early morning, because as I started as I didn’t finish getting all the pictures and video up to my computer and the Internet until almost one in the morning.  But hey:  that’s how I am–

As you can see, I’m pretty green at this. 🙂

Let’s Get Rambling, Ramblers!

And I’m good at rambling.  Just watch!

 

It’s About the Bout

This has been an interesting week at the rink as my team, HARD, aka The Girls in Green, get ready for a home bout this Sunday on the 6th of August.  Though I’ve attended two bouts, this will be my first at home and freshie attendance is expected.  Needless to say I’m a bit excited because, well, home is where the team’s at, right?

It also means the team has been practicing extra hard this week.  Part of the reason is we are playing at home, another is that we want to win.  We’re also working with members from the York City Derby Dames, the team in York, PA, that has become a sister team, allowing their people to play with us and us to play with them.  (One reason for this is to allow for a deeper roster, which comes in handy when you’re playing against teams that have like 15 active players.)

And our teams are working out hard ’cause during Monday night’s practice we lost our resident mermaid, Ariel Wildfire, to a broken ankle that happened when she went down wrong after a hit.  Yes, kids:  you can get seriously hurt even during practice.  She was back using a kneeling scooter on Wednesday night and will be at the game as an observer.

As for my injury…  after sitting out through nearly all of last week my foot is better.  Maybe not one hundred percent, but close enough that I’m back to skating and walking to work.  Now I know that if I’m hurt like that, don’t try to come back on it right away:  take a week off and let it heal.

Since I could practice I managed to get plenty of video with my Go Pro, so you can see some of this stuff happening up close.  Let’s me start off with Monday night…

Scalloping is when you use one foot to alter your trajectory quick, usually to the right or left while you’re going forward.  Normally it’s used to get in front of someone fast, which is what we were working on in this first video.  Needless to say I didn’t do it right, so Ida shows me what I did wrong so I can do it right.

 

I’m getting much better at weaving now that I’m fairly used to my skates.  I’m not quite whipping down the markers, but I’m a lot better than I was when I was back on rentals.

 

A 180 Transition Block is a simple thing:  when someone comes up from behind, you spin around one hundred and eighty degrees and put a shoulder into them to slow them up.  Jackie and I worked together, trading blocker and jammer positions in the next two videos:

 

 

And lastly–I Finally got the chance to do some pyramid blocking.  You have two people shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, forming a wall, and a third person holding on to you both, letting you know which way to move because the jammer is trying to get around you.  As you can see we’re both doing well:

 

And just like that it’s Wednesday night!  Ida was working that night so Gracehopper, the latest freshie to move up to the “adult’s table”, as I call scrimmaging with the vets and playing in bouts, was asked to work with us.  She had us doing a little weaving and plowing and stuff like that, but we really worked hard on blocking.  And first up was single jammer block, which is a bit like scallop blocking, only we didn’t have to get in front, we only had to make contact with the jammer and push her out of bounds–which is why we’re working on a short stretch of made-up track.  Grace was moving fast when I was working with her, which meant I had to keep up with her.  And I did.

 

Now back to the pyramid blocking.  It was a little different than when we did it on Monday night because rather than just block and be done if the jammer was either forced off the track or managed to get around you, Grace made the rule that once we engaged, it was up to the jammer to push the blockers to the end of the track.  You got that right:  one person had to push three people about thirty feet down a laid out straightaway and not stop until we were at the end.  And if the jammer went out of bounds?  They came back on where they went out and got back to pushing.

So these first two are with me being in the wall:

 

 

And here I’m the jammer coming up on the blockers, which means it’s pushing time!

 

And lastly I’m the brace in the pyramid, so I’m calling the directions for which way the jammer is going.

 

Here I am doing something I haven’t done before:  I’m skating backwards.  It’s only taken about forty years, and I’m only going about twenty feet, but I’m getting there.  It’s all about putting the moves together.

 

Lastly we were working on crossovers and while I don’t have that move down pat, I decided to see if I could turn on a bit of speed and see how it felt.  While I didn’t go as fast as the vets, I was skating outside the track and close to the wall at a good clip, doing a lap maybe every twenty-five seconds.  When I realized I hadn’t filmed this, I went back out for a couple of laps, only stopping after a couple of laps due to a cramp in my back.  But while I was out there doing this I finally felt as if I was getting into some kind of grove.  Now to work on the form and build up the endurance and see how this looks when I’m inside the track.

 

Eighteen practices in, but the reality is I was not doing much in two due to injury and I’ve missed three others for the same reason, as well as missing three others when I saw my daughter graduate.  Still, in sixteen practices, thirty-two hours of work, I’ve gotten this far, and in the next thirty-two hours of practice I expect to be much better than this.  Which means when I get to the end of September I had better look back at this video and think, “Yeah, I was really starting to get better then–”

Let’s hope I exceed my expectations.