I get a lot of requests to coach offence. It’s definitely an undertrained skill in the sport of roller derby. We spend so long on drills that focus on stopping the opposing jammer, sometimes I think we forget that games are won by the team that SCORES the most amount of points, rather than the team that prevents points being scored against them.
Anyone that has attended one of my coaching sessions has heard my rant against the term “help the jammer”, so I won’t bore you with it again! Suffice to say offence is a SKILL and a STRATEGY that should be trained in equal amounts as we train defence.
But before you can train the skill, you need to know WHEN to use it. Getting the mental switch from defence to offence takes time and training. Here is one of my favourite drills to teach this mental skill – and it’s SUPER FUN! I coached this at a recent training session in Medellin, Colombia and (despite some initial translation hiccups) it was a hit!
Drill: Swiss vs Cheddar
Aim: Train the mental switch from defence to offence, improve team communication
Size of group: 10-40 skaters
Setup: Divide skaters into two teams, preferably with visibly different colours.
– Pick two jammers for each team (4 jammers total – can have more if larger group)
– Rest of the skaters are blockers (3-10 skaters per team)
– Mix up the blockers on the track
Explain Drill: Ask skaters “What type of cheese is Swiss?” Answer: It has HOLES.
– “What type of cheese is cheddar?” Answer: It is DENSE and HARD.
– Blockers goal is for EVERYONE to shout “cheddar” when the opposing jammer is approaching the pack – and make a DENSE WALL.
– Blockers goal is for EVERYONE to shout “swiss” when it is your jammer approaching the pack – and make HOLES in the opposing pack.
Note: This should be NOISY! You want to hear every skater on the track vocalizing and repeating the correct command. So it should sound like “cheddar cheddar cheddar cheddar cheddar”. Explain that you want the skaters to be vocalizing the command even while they are doing the skill. “cheddar cheddar I’m cheddaring, doing cheddar” etc. Vocalizing will trigger the brain and in turn the muscle memory.
Drill: Pack starts skating at regular pack speed.
– Coach stands in the middle of the track with the jammers.
– Coach sends through jammers one at a time.
– Jammers goal is to skate at approx 75%. This is not a drill for jamming – they have to let their team practice offence otherwise their team will not know what to do when they need it. Let their team do the work for them for once!
– If jammers get stuck too long in the pack, get them to skate off the track and rejoin the coach in the middle.
Additions to drill:
– Increase difficulty of the drill by sending jammers through closer together. This means the team has to start switching faster.
– It is EVERYONE’S responsibility to communicate. Make sure everyone is getting the chance to RECOGNIZE and VOCALIZE. If you have particularly vocal people on the team ask them to remain quiet until they hear other team mates vocalizing “swiss” or “cheddar”.
– Talk about what types of offence you can use. Incorporate them into the drill.
– Make it more “real”: use 4 blockers per team and replace “cheddar” with “defence” and “swiss” with “offence.”
Enjoy! And remember roller derby is always more fun with MORE CHEESE 🙂
* Thanks to Ballistic Whistle for introducing me to this drill at Derby Revolution in Belgium – it’s one of my faves!
* If you are interested in training for your team or league, check out www.camppivotstar.com or email email@example.com – we would love to coach you!