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How do you create a team that works? Part Two

In the previous blog post I wrote about how to set up solid foundations for a healthy team. Now that you have your road map, let’s take all this positive energy to the track and translate all this fuzzy, cuddliness into deathly efficient team work.

Firstly some practice rules:

1) Everyone skates with everyone else. While those beautiful, mind-reading partnerships may form and should be used in game play, practice time is for learning new skills from your team mates and, in turn, teaching them everything you know.
2) Everyone plays every position. Being able to support your team members is key. How can you support them if you don’t know what it feels like to play their position?
3) No one skates alone. Being an individually great skater will only get you so far. Once you start playing higher level teams, I don’t care how great you are, one person can only hold a jammer for a certain length of time. Great blocking and strategies are executed by multiple team members – NO ONE SKATES ALONE!
4) Let the coaches COACH. It is every team members responsibility to support the coach by listening and facilitating the drills. Feedback is important, but it can be given privately, after the practice is completed. Your coach is an integral part of your team – make sure you support them.

OK let’s get skating!

Teamwork Drill #1 Find a Friend
Equipment needed: At least 2 or more different coloured pinnies
Set Up: Divide the group into teams and put them in different coloured pinnies or T shirts. Make sure you have at least 10 skaters of each colour.
– Get everyone skating mixed up in a big pack. The more skaters you have the funner this drill!
– Coach shouts out numbers 2-5. The skaters have to find another skater of that colour to form those groups (ie. pairs, three, fours, fives). If the coach repeats the same number (e.g 2) then the skaters have to find a different group of the same colour.
– In between the numbers, coach shouts out “mix” – all skaters have to mix up again.

This is a really simple drill, but it’s fun and it gets people thinking about finding their own team mates when there are lots of bodies moving around. Make sure to keep the skaters in a tight pack as this will also help them practice their agility.

Teamwork Drill #2 Moving as One
Set up: Skaters get into groups of three: 2 blockers and one “jammer.”
Depending on space you can do this with everyone on the track at the same time. Or split it up.
– The blockers have to positionally block the “jammer” without losing contact with each other. If you split up, reset and start the drill again.
– Blockers focus on staying in front, keeping things SLOW and communicating lots with your partner.
– The “jammer’s” job is to help the blockers to practice their combined lateral movement. This is not about beating the wall. Make sure the jammers start slowly and keep the blockers moving around and across the track. Once the blockers are getting it, you can up the intensity.
– Switch up the roles and the groups to keep everyone learning from each other.

Again another really simple drill, but one that we do at EVERY practice. Working with other skaters is hard and takes lots of practice to become fluid and unthinking.

Teamwork Drill #3 Two Touch Drill
Set up: Line up off the track in 4 lines. 3 Blockers, One “Jammer” line. Blockers start as a 3 wall in front of the jammer. You have one lap before returning to the line. Everyone rotates through each line.
– This is the next step up from the “Move as One” drill. Now you have a 3 wall blocking the “jammer”
– You complete the drill if you can slow down and contain the jammer while maintaining TWO TOUCHES in that wall (ie. two points of contact). If one blocker leaves the other two, the drill has failed.
– Again, the jammer is helping the blockers learn, so adjust the intensity of their “jamming.” If the jammer gets past the wall, then reset to the original position and finish the lap.

This is another drill we do at every practice. It’s actually harder than the Move as One drill because now you have 3 minds all trying to work together. I find that the trick with this one is to figure out where each of you is looking (over your left/right shoulder, at the inside line, behind your legs) and aim to cover each other’s blind spots. That way you avoid all three skaters heads swivelling around and the wall breaking apart.

Quick Tip: When you are communicating with your team mates, DON’T YELL. Project your voice, but talk confidently and calmly. There is enough craziness going on on the track already without you adding to it. Plus as a jammer, having blockers calmly talking to each other is way more intimidating than having people that are shouting because they aren’t in control of the situation.

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Have you checked out Camp Pivotstar yet? It’s the newly launched coaching arm of the Pivotstar you know and love. Check out our website www.camppivotstar.com. We are now booking coaching for September-December 2012, email us at camppivotstar@gmail.com for more info.

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