Roxy Rockett

Blocking- the ins and outs of control vs desperation

This is a sensitive and personal subject to some skaters. When talking about blocking, I tend to think about it as two different types, desperate verses effective.

As with anything you do on the rink, you have to know what, when, why and where to perform your acts.

Blocking is something every skater does and in my opinion, the most important element on the rink when bouting.

Desperate Blocks

Whoooo weee.. I have had my fair share of dealing with such blockers. In fact, this is the first real stage of bouting every newbie goes through. After weeks of training basic drills and watching the grannies scrimmage from the sidelines, when newbies get their chance to go in for the first time,.. you’ll see some awful falls, slide tackles, over committing to blocks, grabbing while falling (likely a reaction stemming from some bitch just knocking you the F out), tripping, back blocking, elbows/forearms, 20 feet (hell, more like 90 feet).. and so on. The main factor in ridding this ill, is knowing how to get you (and your blockers) past this ‘infant’ stage.

Effective Blocks

When I say effective blocks, I’m talking about the ones that not only land and take some bitch out, I’m talking about ones that have no penalties attached to them, ones that you can land and still keep skating with the pack, ones that keep you in front of the targeted skater. Effective blocking has to do with knowing what you want to do and to whom. Going around knocking every girl on the rink isn’t effective blocking (unless, of course, you’re coming out of the penalty box and they don’t see you coming… sshhheeeit, that’s always a fun thing to pull). Effective blocking is basically, knowing how to control yourself when hitting.

Over committing to blocks

This one is the hardest one to stray from. I mean, how can you tell a blocker that has the most JTD’s (jammer take downs) to learn to control herself more when blocking. One could reply with, “she was effective in keeping that jammer back/down.. why change?” I reply with, “Perhaps we should also take a look at her penalties to answer that question”.

Flying at someone without a target in your eye, just hoping that you so happen to nail her, isn’t an effective why to block. Though you may take that jammer/blocker out, in the meantime you rack up penalties, and you’re out of play for your team. Most skaters I skate with see these types of blockers coming. Especially if you’re trying to make a huge hit.. getting into position to pull something like this off is a dead giveaway. It’s like an 80’s metal head wearing white sneakers.. I know you like Def Leppard.

Same thing, when I’m jamming and I see you aiming for me, unless you have some good control over your blocks, your ass will have missed me and you’ll go flying (either into our fans or your team mates).

How does one control a block?

1.Conditioning. First off, I have this drill I like to do with newbie skaters. It’s called jab blocking (yeah, it’s an original name). It’s a stationary drill that one can do at home and work to strengthen their thighs and condition their upper body to keep arms in and project the shoulders upward and outward. You basically start in derby position, then you push from your left leg in an upper motion and stretch your right shoulder upward and outward, then you pull yourself back into derby position just as fast as you left it.. You repeat on the right leg. Alternate legs throughout this drill about 20 times and you’ll start to sweat.

2. Basic Skills. Another thing to note is that unless you have good control over your skating skills, you will not be an effective blocker. If you’re struggling to stay up and in the pack, how in the hell are you going to be able to land an effective block and be able to keep on skating? You’re not. That’s why I always go back to basic skating skills first and foremost.

3.Selecting your target. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is aiming, finding that target to hit. You have to know who’s around you at all times. Hopefully, by the 8th jam, you have a good sense of the other team and how certain skaters play. When finding that blocker/jammer to hit, you have to first find their weakest part. If a blocker is unstable and unaware, wait until she is focused on the jammer and knock her down (the jab block should take care of this). You always aim for the weakest player on the track when beginning a jam. Get her out of there.. the fewer the blockers, the easier it is for your team to control the pack.

If you see that certain players play offense and is highly effective at it, you will then want to make sure you put her where you want her on the track (how to do this exactly? well, this info is not free. Sorry! C’mon, I’m going to have to play some of you bitches soon enough).

4.Executing. Lastly, know when to hit your target. What happens when you try to land a block on a jammer if you don’t see her coming? You can’t. What will happen is, you try to sprint at the last minute (if you use toe-stops, beware of them ankles cracking) to land a block, but unfortunately, you’re too late on the draw and if you land any hits, it’s more and likely an elbow or a back block (both minors). The best case is, you’ll completely miss the jammer and your ass is on the floor (although you’re WAY out of play and doing nothing to help your team, you do not get any penalties). Best reaction in this scenario, don’t desperately throw yourself at the jammer, get some speed and get into the pack.

How to coach to the uncontrolled blocker

I have a few levels of coaching on this issue.
I like to think of said issue as an infant child. How would one go about teaching this child NOT to run into traffic?

  1. Teach them the dangers in doing so- At newbie level, you train girls the outcome of each dangerous situation. Example: doing squats. I train our newbies to keep their arms in when doing their squats and in the same breathe, I tell them the reason for this is: “you’re finding balance in your outstretched arms, you need to pull them into your chest and let your legs and stomach find balance. Why? When you start bouting, you’re outstretched arms are going to evolve into forearms/elbows.” When talking to your skaters, do not come at them with a pissed off, “you suck” attitude. You approach them lightly (at first) and offer your help.

  2. If skaters are not listening to your advice and continue to be a danger on the rink, you then want to start pointing them out in scrimmage. As a coach, you should stand in the middle of the rink (with your refs) and start naming names. I know the league I skate with, tend to think I have an abrasive manner at times, so I would hold off on calling girls out, due to sensitivity (taking it as a personal attack, when it’s coming from Roxy the captain, not Roxy the “off-rink-funny-kick-ass-dancer”). Calling bitches out, after they had a sit down with their captains/coaches, will hopefully get them to shape up. (not to mention, I’m sure their fellow skaters will have a few “unencouraging” words to say to them after they land a shitty block on them.)

  3. The last way to talk to one of these blockers is to out right bitch at them with anger and sincerity. Going back to that infant teaching comparison, think about this child is about to run into traffic.. what is the first reaction a mother has? “STOP!!!!!!!!!” That’s the same raw emotion you have to use when communicating to this blocker. You’re (in a sense) trying to save her from this speeding car…perhaps it should be said, you’re trying to save your other players from her.

  4. If all else fails, take her out of scrimmaging and do falling drills (yes, that is my answer for everything).


Categorised as: Falling


6 Comments

  1. Gwenefear says:

    Thanks for this advice Roxy, I am going to work on the “jab blocks” at home.

    Keep up the blogging..we are learning!

    ~Gwenefear

  2. Roxy,
    Just wanted to thank you for these! I love em!

    I”m going to repost your words on my team board to keep the motivation up during the holidays!!!

    Awesome!!

    carmen “blog fan” geddit
    houston roller derby
    psych ward siren -captain

  3. Krewe says:

    I have to say… hearing you yell… makes rememebr what to do… especially when you are learning….

  4. Great advice. And if all that fails take it out on the rink!hahah

    Im going to try this exercise in a minute. thanks

  5. GataKillya says:

    Thanks for concise info–it’s hard to put into words!

    GataKillya – La Revolucion
    Assassination City, Texas

  6. Goddamn you are inspirational! Every time I get a little bit cocky, I got to roxyroxkette.com for some good, old fashioned humbling. Love you Roxy!!!

    *Bonnie D.Stroir*
    founder San Diego Derby Dolls
    OG LA Derby Doll
    BigTimeRoxyRocketteFan