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Team Australia Trains Part 2: The Trainening

By Blockodile Dundee 

Watching Australian skaters play overseas is one of the very few times I’ll deign to get out of bed while it’s still dark, so I was only too happy (read: I wasn’t happy but I did it anyway) when the Wizards of Aus ventured out into the cold wilderness of Europe for the Men’s World Cup this year. I really loved watching Sausarge Rolls skate, so you can imagine my excitement when I showed up at the Team Australia TGSS practice to see Sarge on skates and ready to coach.

The Great Southern Slam in June marked only the second time Team Australia had met to train, so the novelty of seeing everyone at once was still very real. Although we had congregated in Adelaide as competitors, it felt wonderful to come together as teammates once again. As always, Flamin’ Galah and Slawta Dawta helped get the show on the road, while the tireless Cherry Axe-Wound did general badassery and TCB (taking care of business).

It can’t be overstated how much work Cherry does for the team behind the scenes - and very much in front of the scenes at times, such as her ever-presence at the Team Australia merch desk during the entirety of the Slam. If you ever see Cherry around, please do give her a very high five.

Sarge worked with the team on footwork, agility, stability and strength. There is an emphasis on edges in derby training these days that I really, really love, and Sarge’s edge work is seriously off the chain. If I can one day muster a tenth of the skill and control that man has, I’ll be pretty chuffed. We learned, too, how valuable a water bottle is in training sessions - we did precision edge stepping, toe stop agility, cutting a corner at speed (and much, much more!) using our water bottles as markers - the opportunities grow exponentially when you add your friend’s water bottle to the equation, too.

This reminded me of one of my favourite drills to do when I’m running trainings, which is to set up four cones in a diamond shape roughly a metre apart, with one cone in the middle. You then have a minute to get around the cones in any shape, direction and fashion you want, as long as you don’t use your toe stops. So there’s a lot of stepping off your inside edges, using a sharp edge stamp to stop, pivoting on front or back axles, tight crossovers, and Russian circles. Whenever you’ve got a moment to muck around by yourself, I highly recommend it.

We practiced drills to get explosive power from our pushes and maintain rock-like composure when blocking. We learned about using our whole bodies when approaching a blocker, and tried with all our might to mimic the speed and snappiness of Sarge’s movements (spoiler alert: it’s literally impossible).

It was a funny session, as we’re so grateful and want to make the most of any chance we get to train together, but with our short two-hour block - coupled with the fact that everyone had to play qualifying games the next day - this was as much a valuable team bonding opportunity as it was a physical training session. Afterwards, we geared down, took some super cheesy photos and parted ways. For the next time we met on the track, it would be as opponents! (But the time after that, we’d be teammates again. More on that to follow). 

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