Derby Tips & Tricks
Hip pads, or Azz Pads will help a lot. Get the ones with hard plastic shells on the hips that skateboarders and snowboarders use.
Another trick, watch for the hits that are coming at you. If you see it coming, but don’t have time to avoid it, you can take the momentum out of the hit by hitting them first. If you beat the hit, even by a split second, and hit the other person before they hit you, their momentum is forced back into them, rather than into you. You will be able to knock them down with the power of their own hit.
Another one, if you are jamming, learn the hip check and USE IT. This is where you give your hip a little flick like you are doing the bump with someone. Hitting someone, even gently, in the hip immediately takes them off balance because it’s where their center of gravity lies. You can also do a booty bumo type of hit where just as the hit is coming to you, you turn your back so that they end up hitting you as you poke out your hit and butt. This will take their momentum, keep you on your feet, and could get the hitter a back blocking penalty.
Last one—are you trying to take corners on the outside? Big no no. Good blockers pray that a jammer will take the outside on the way into a turn. That sweet spot is the most fabulous place to hit a jammer and with little effort, send them flying and sprawling off the track. As you get to the turns, do everything possible to cut immediately to the inside or at least middle of the track. You will live longer!
The fastest path on a derby track is to cut close on the corners then cross out on the straights and back into the next corner.
Of course, that assumes there’s no one there trying to stop you. When going into the pack, you will have to be more maneuverable and juke inside from the outside. Still, as a general rule of thumb, the jammer should take the inside to get through the pack. If you end up on the outside on the sweet spot—you could be dead meat unless you’ve timed it perfectly and stay super low to avoid detection. There’s an art to taking the outside, and it takes a good bit to learn.
* skate low, you have probally read this a hundred times, but for the love of derby, SKATE F****NG LOW!!! and HIT low as well! the best way to take out a big blocker is hitting her in her thigh, when she doesn’t see you cause you are skating so low.
* constantly look around NO MATTER WHAT. even if you are trying to assist the jammer, look on both sides of you, cause if you get blind sided you are useless to the jammer while you are on the ground, and yer ass is gonna hurt.
As for developing your speed, you need to try to add variable speed work to your skating workouts. Fartlek is great, or get in a speed line and practice intermittent sprints and recovery. That is the best way to increase speed IMO.
As to shortening your stride—I would say no to that. You should be able to take some shorter choppy steps if needed (duckwalk type of sprint steps) but overall, a strong long stride is a benefit you don’t want to loose.
The thing is know when to do what. Long strides are for when you are catching back up to the pack. Shorter and more maneuverable ones are to get you through the pack.
Get Low. The lower, the better. Try for a 90 degree knee bend. Over longer distances, you won’t be able to maintain this, but bend ‘em as much as you can.
Keep your weight centered and off of your toes. Push through the center of the frames. As an exercise, think about pushing through the heels at the end of the stroke. Make your heel-wheel the last wheel to leave the pavement at the end of the stroke. If your feet are cramping after every jam or on long warmup drills, lace your skates up every other hole. This reduces the pressure on the top of the foot when you lean into and around turns 1 and 3.
If you still get cramps, or feel out of control, loosen your trucks a little so you get more give on the turns, making your crossovers tighter.If this adjustment helps, in the long run you will need to get softer bushings, but just playing with the tightness will help diagnose the problem.
if the truth is to be told, then a good jammer NEVER glides, they cross the entire track, which should be completed in an oblong oval around the track by taking the outside on the straightaways and then cutting to the inside line on the “corner”. This will get the jammer max speed, continually crossing over.
practice your falling techniques!
always turn to yer side when you are falling. (it sounds like you are doing this, so if you don’t want the impact to hurt, keep rolling in the direction you are moving.)
remember physical science in high school? it is all about your energy, where it is directed , your momentum and enertia. i forget which one is which sometimes, but i remember that energy has to be released, and there is a reaction for every action.
you should be practicing falling WHEN EVER you put your knee pads on
*double knee fall- do this like a rock star, take a few strides and fall on your knees, at the same time raise your arms and LEAN BACK! if you don’t lean back you are gonna be sorry, and break your knees. i have the most trouble with this when we are just practicing.
*single knee falls- do equal amounts on both knees. try single knee 180s, this will help you keep from sliding off the track and keep you in control. the better you get at these falls the better you will be at derby! being able to POP UP is priceless!!
*baseball slides(wear all gear!!!)- This is best used for not killing any body if you were knocked out of bounds and headed toward the crowd. it looks great and is O SO MUCH FUN! i will give directions for a right foot slide.
~pick up some speed(for more fun and more slide) destribute all of your body weight onto right foot. pick up left skate and drop BEHIND right foot(hitting your left knee pad on the floor), at the same time, lean back and to the left. It looks like you are making the number 4 with your legs and falling back and to the left. you can slide and slide and slide if you do this right.
In most any sport, making a good hit is all about timing. You have to make sure your opponents weight is shifted to the side that you want her to go, before you hit her. If you are on her inside, and want her to go outside, wait till her weight is on her outside leg, then explode from a lower position, up into Her. If you are not big, or fast, you will need to be accurate in your timing. Basically try to hit them when they are off balance in the direction you want them to go.
It’s not necessarily hitting HARD that’s important, it’s following through with the hit. Don’t just hit and then back off. Hit through the person you’re hitting. Aim for their opposite side. Like if I were skating next to X on her right side and wanted to hit her, I would get down low, and hit, making sure I hit and KEEP contact so all energy flows where you want it.
Strengthen your core. Your core is your most important muscle group in derby. It keeps you balanced, which will allow you to hit better and harder. Do ab twists, crunches, wall sits, etc. Anything to improve your core. These things can all be done at home, you don’t even have to go to the gym! Which is a huge plus if you’re someone like me who’s pressed for time.
Also, an important part of blocking is simply keeping that jammer behind you. Use your hips and booty. Practice skating low and really using what your mama gave you to make it hard for her to get around you.
Try to put your shoulder in their hip. Don’t try to just go shoulder to shoulder. Most opponents are ready for that. Do a quick drop and hit them where they aren’t defending themselves.
First drill point, is keep your knees bent while doing this exercise. What your going to practice is what we in Roller Derby have done for years to develop our blocking ability. Your going to Push-Glide and how that’s done is simple, you won’t lift or pick up your skates from the floor but push and glide, leaning to the right while while pushing with your left leg and skate and then just the opposite, leaning to the left and push with the right. continue this exercise for at least 3 to 4 laps. Very simply this exercise will force you to keep your body weight over your skates and that is the first key in developing good blocking habits. Remember to keep those knees bent. The better you get at this the less your upper body will sway and your balance will improve greatly. Blocking Derby style is simply staying alert and by that I mean, You learn to know where your at and everyone else is. Don’t think this alone will make you a great blocker but master it and you will have the first most important element BALANCE.
By the way keep your elbows bent while doing this push-glide and juking with your upper body.
Blocking power can come from speed instead of size, so use your skating skills to your advantage. You have probably done drills where you cut from one side of the track to the other, or where you veer through cones placed in a wide zig-zag pattern. That’s the move you need to use, that quick cut from one side of the track to the other.
Make sure you lead with the foot that’s on the same side you are blocking toward. Turn that toe and knee out toward your target and focus the weight on that foot into the outside of your heel. You should be able to lift your front wheels clear off the floor once you get comfortable with it. At the same time, dig in with your other foot and carve a half circle toward the side you are blocking on, like when you skate with all eight on the floor. The weight in that skate should be focused on the inside edge and you should push through the heel, almost pivoting on the front wheels.
Really drive your hips into it like you’re skiing and remember that the deeper you scissor your legs from front to back and from side to side, the faster you can cut. Lead into it with your hip and really commit to the block.
Make sure you are skating in a proper stance. Your knees should be flexed pretty deeply, your ass should be down, not up in the air and you should be low, wide, and balanced. This makes you hard to knock down, and when you’re hitting someone, most of the time it’s the lower, more stable skater who will stay on their feet.
Use the corners to your advantage. When you block with a quick cut from the inside of a corner to the outside, where centripetal force is on your side, you don’t need a ton of power to knock down a larger skater.
If you’re smaller, don’t forget you can work with your teammates on whipping and pushing you into blocks for more power. This is especially effective if you have a 1-2 blocker combo where you have a larger, power hitter, and a smaller, agile blocker. The power blocker can take on the big girls and focus on forceouts, and the agile blocker an move quickly for surprise hits or to get in front of a jammer for a positional block, lining her up for a takeout by the power hitter. I work with bigger girl on my team this way. She knows to whip and throw me into the jammer, I know to use her as a screen and line up hits for her. And I’m quick enough that when she falls behind the pack, I can give her a push to help her catch up and then run up past her myself.
Use 6.2.10 to your advantage. Make the opposing skater, especially the jammer, cut the track by blocking her to the inside, especially on the corners where she can easily re-enter illegally before she can stop herself. I’ve also seen lots of blockers hit a jammer out of bounds and then slow almost to a stop, making her wait to re-enter or get the penalty, although personally, I think it’s a pretty cheap rule loophole, you will usually get away with it.
Be sneaky. The hardest hit is the one you don’t see coming. So hit girls on the side they aren’t looking on. A great place to do this is on the corners when blockers look over their left shoulder for the jammers. As soon as you see the back of an opposing blocker’s helmet, knock her into the infield.
Be unpredictable. Don’t telegraph your block by looking at the girl you want to hit, tensing your body, and lining her up. She will see it coming a mile away and you’ll whiff the block big time. Use your peripheral vision and work on your timing, so you can move at the last second and still connect.
Use your strongest weapons against their weakest points. In roller derby that usually means a hip check to the mid thigh. You’d be surprised at how many skaters you can take out with a hard block, low in the legal zone, when you could shoulder check them all day and just bounce off. A great way to use a hip check is actually to aim for the inside of the opposing skater’s thigh, on her outside leg. So you actually cut in front of her body and hit on the inside of her leg instead of hitting her in her side. Time it right and it will usually take a skater right out.
Learn to block backward. I can’t stress enough how important blocking to the front of the body is. I don’t even try to check girls shoulder to shoulder anymore because it’s a waste of my energy. Instead, I focus on using my shoulders to hit girls in the chest, or if you get low and swoop upward, in the solar plexus, which is even better. For hips, hit them in the front of the thighs, crotch, or stomach, which will really mess up their skating stance and force them out of balance. The can opener is your friend.
Cut: turn sharply and quickly toward your opponent. Try to get your feet just in front of hers.
Down: just as you near her, drop down as low as you can (without getting under her knees, of course)
Up: as soon as you make contact (I use the whole side of my body from hips to shoulders) pop up sharply and drive your weight through her body.
Follow up by muscling into her spot (rather than retreating back into your old one). If I do one of the three, I annoy her, two of the three, I’ll move her, and all three I can often knock her down.
pack up on the jammer line and walk on their toe stops 3 laps around the track. Good for overall balance.
A friend of mine sent this to me. However, she didn’t know who wrote it, she just found it one line. I thought it was good advice and thought I would share. If you know who wrote this please let me know so I can credit them properly. - Thanks.