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Roller Derby Forum Discussions about banked-track and flat-track roller derby events, teams, skaters, and training methods.

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Old November 18th, 2008, 12:55 PM   #1
Razor Rockette
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Default Tips for blocking hard?

I've been skating now for about a year, and feel that I'm improving. The problem is that I'm rubbish at blocking-I can't seem to hit hard either with shoulders or hips. Any tips or drills on or off skates that would help me improve?
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Old November 18th, 2008, 02:38 PM   #2
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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.
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Old November 18th, 2008, 05:14 PM   #3
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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.

Do you have someone who can skate with hit pads and just let you practice hitting? I know you probably do some hitting at practice, but maybe it's just not enough. I bet if you ask someone to stay late and help you, they'd be more than willing to help you improve!

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.

Good luck, and keep at it!
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Old November 19th, 2008, 05:43 PM   #4
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Default Random Thoughts on Hitting

A lot of people will sing the praises of one form of blocking over another. For instance some people will swear you need to come up and over simultaneously, while other feel you power straight over to deal the most effective blow. My advice has always been, try both, and choose the way that feels right for you. I can tell you honestly that coming up and over may be a more effective way to throw your opponent off balance, but if you can't hit them very hard that way, or if you are off balance yourself, it's no good. I hit ten times harder coming straight over, so, for me, it is more effective because I feel more confident and stable with that approach. So, figure out the basic approach to hitting that feels most comfortable to you, and roll with it.

Hip hitting is good. What has really made hip hitting effective for me, is taking a step over toward my opponent at the same time I am throwing the hip. So, I get close, and take a power step toward her with the foot closest to her. This gives me the extra oomph I could never get just by shifting my hip or with a swerve/weave that puts me at a more ineffective angle for dealing a bruise worthy hip check.

Finally, get really f*ing low. 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. Surprise is an effective ally.

Good luck!

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Old November 19th, 2008, 08:43 PM   #5
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The size match up is always critical. A larger person will have the advantage in a direct hit. but a smaller person will almost bounce off performing the exact same hit. Ya got to use what Nature gave ya, to the best advantage. ---No matter what, all hits, do not always come out as we expect. Things are in motion. So hit em hard, and often. "They can't score, if they're on the floor."
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Old November 27th, 2008, 01:32 AM   #6
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Post Blocking Basics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razor Rockette View Post
I've been skating now for about a year, and feel that I'm improving. The problem is that I'm rubbish at blocking-I can't seem to hit hard either with shoulders or hips. Any tips or drills on or off skates that would help me improve?
Dear RR
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.
Let me know how your doing in a couple few weeks and we'll add some other elements that will help you develop your blocking skills. By the way keep your elbows bent while doing this push-glide and juking with your upper body.

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Old December 4th, 2008, 07:49 AM   #7
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I felt that I couldn't block very hard until we started practicing with pads used for football or kickboxing. Something about concentrating on the pad as a target unleashed my ability to use weight and momentum to my advantage. Maybe it was because I wasn't distracted by a moving target, or that I didn't have to watch out for body parts or whatever. Just focusing on putting my all into that pad really helped me figure out where the strength comes from, and oh my did it feel great! After the 'AHA!' moment I was able to apply the work to drills and scrimmage.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 04:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarasassin MRG View Post
I felt that I couldn't block very hard until we started practicing with pads used for football or kickboxing. Something about concentrating on the pad as a target unleashed my ability to use weight and momentum to my advantage. Maybe it was because I wasn't distracted by a moving target, or that I didn't have to watch out for body parts or whatever. Just focusing on putting my all into that pad really helped me figure out where the strength comes from, and oh my did it feel great! After the 'AHA!' moment I was able to apply the work to drills and scrimmage.
we have been doing this and it is really really helping us all!
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Old December 5th, 2008, 07:54 PM   #9
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All really good advice!

The only thing I would add is to remember the footwork and to think about blocking smarter instead of harder. I'm a small skater at about 135lbs and 5'3", so if I want to knock somebody down, inertia and size are not usually on my side. I have to get crafty and be light on my feet.

Footwork:

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.

Block Smarter:

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.

Hope this helps! Keep practicing!
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Old December 6th, 2008, 01:56 PM   #10
Razor Rockette
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Thank you all soo much for the advice. I'll work on my hip checking tomorrow!
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Old December 10th, 2008, 07:18 PM   #11
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Rei Zerburnn, those are really great tips!
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Old December 12th, 2008, 11:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Rei Zerburnn, those are really great tips!
Thanks! Brains over brawn, I say...

Although I looked over that post after I wrote it and realized I should have just written as an article and put it up for everyone. Ah well, I'll just have to post it up later!
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Old December 13th, 2008, 09:24 AM   #13
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Blocking backwards is a fantastic move if you can master it.
I can't do it, but one of our skaters is really good at it, and she doesn't give any indication that she's about to do either. If you get too close behind her - BAM - straight on your backside. It is very hard to not get unbalanced by someone hitting you in the chest, especially if you don't expect it.

I'm going to make that one of my 'things to master' for next year
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Old December 13th, 2008, 10:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metallikat View Post
Blocking backwards is a fantastic move if you can master it.
I can't do it, but one of our skaters is really good at it, and she doesn't give any indication that she's about to do either. If you get too close behind her - BAM - straight on your backside. It is very hard to not get unbalanced by someone hitting you in the chest, especially if you don't expect it.

I'm going to make that one of my 'things to master' for next year

I have recently learned and begun to master this. It's imperative that you are good at cutting the track for this to happen.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 12:48 AM   #15
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Default One, two, three.

I'm learning that hitting hard is a three-step process: cut, down, up.

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.
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Old February 7th, 2009, 01:23 AM   #16
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Just an FYI that I finally worked my post in this thread, along with some of your super awesome ideas into an article on the subject of blocking.

A big thanks to all for sharing their thoughts, experiences and techniques, and to Razor Rockette for asking a very smart question!

[URL="http://fishnetburnns.blogspot.com/2009/02/guide-to-effective-blocking.html"]Check out the article here.[/URL

Rei
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Old February 7th, 2009, 01:41 AM   #17
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Awesome!!!
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Old February 7th, 2009, 01:47 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
I'm learning that hitting hard is a three-step process: cut, down, up.

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.
That is just ridiculously good advice, thank you.
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Old February 7th, 2009, 11:36 PM   #19
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Default Training Videos..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQvDZ0VphDo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1uVC...eature=related


Just do this every time.... and well see you at nationals
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Old February 9th, 2009, 03:56 PM   #20
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Hi,

I just started learning how to skate this summer when the Boston Derby Dames were doing skating clinics. I hope to have my thesis research well enough along that I will be able try out this fall.
*waves at Dreadnaught!*

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Those are sweet. I watched that first link several times to really catch everything that's going on. This really shows what Rei said about agile blockers doing the set up. Coming out of the corner, Beyonslay points and signals her teammate in the red helmet to dash in for the set up. She dashes in for the number one hit with the shoulder block, and Beyonslay is in motion right behind her for the number two and knockdown. After the shoulder block, red helmet stays in front of the Jammer keeping her in place for the smackin. Super teamwork.

But the Philly blocker was snoozing -- she was right beside Beyonslay and looking directly at her when she signalled the attack, but then stood there and didn't launch into intercepting Beyonslay to save her jammer.

In the second clip from the camera angle you can't see any signalling going on, but the first blocker does the same quick shoulder block and then gets in front of Rice Rocket with a great wide-stance to keep her in place.

Red-helmet is back doing the same set-up in this one too:
Slay vs Hotrod
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMJrQ...eature=related

They clearly practice that drill a lot. I hope our Boston Massacre has been practicing to recognise that set-up and launch a Beyonslay interception counter-attack.

Cheers,
Mo
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