Being a jammer can be scary. You often feel lonely and on your own out there on the track while a bunch of people are trying their hardest to take you down. But it’s not true! Jamming can be super fun and rewarding, especially if you’ve got a great group of teammates supporting you.
This is the philosophy behind my very popular “Fearless Jamming” class. Even if you don’t ever consider yourself a jammer, everyone should train as a jammer. At the very least, jammer training will help you to become a better blocker, and you never know when your team might need you to step in, pull on that star and save the day!
This is one of my favourite roller derby training drills. It’s really simple, but very powerful in changing skaters’ perspective as they approach pack. It works really well with new jammers, but just as well with seasoned skaters that have never thought about the pack in this way.
Derby Hugs Drill
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Derby Hugs Drill Set up:
- Get everyone divided into two teams that are clearly identifiable (pinnies or light/black t-shirts work best)
- Split those teams in half and put half on the track (these are the “blockers) and half line up on the inside/outside of the track (these are the jammers)
- “Blockers” on the track skate at about 60%, with teams mixed up but not engaging opposing players.
Derby Hugs Drill:
- Skaters in the lines comes out two at a time (opposing teams) and skate up to the back of the pack with you (coach) These are your “jammers.”
- Once you are about 30 feet away from the pack you make the skaters stop and look at the pack and pick out where their OWN team mates are. They have to decide on their path through the pack based on where these players are. Make sure you give them a few seconds to do this.
- Now they have to skate as fast as they can through the pack and HUG (yes I said hug) every member of their own team.
- On the way they count out loud every skater that they hug “one, two, three” etc.
- Once they reach the front they go to the back of the line on the inside/outside of the track.
- Switch those skating with those jamming once everyone has gone through.
- Blockers should try to stay in the same spots on the track and not move around too much when jammers are in the pack
- Jammers should take the time to recognize their teammates, then pick their paths based on where they are.
- Try to not look at opposing players and instead focus on your team mates.
That’s it! Simple, but the important part is focusing on your own teammates. This makes jamming much less scary because you’re concentrating on the people that you know are not going to hit you, and that you can use them to make your way through the pack.
Also, if you work with those teammates to make great offensive plays for you, you can get through a pack much quicker and score more points – hurrah!
Okay, get out there and BE FEARLESS!
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>>>> Want more Derby Learning? We’ve put together our Top Ten Tips for Bench Coaches – cos it’s not just the people on the track that make up a team.