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Roller Derby Blog | July 2014

8 Week Coaching Challenge - Week 1

29th July 2014

Our friends at PropelPerform have put together a 8 Week Challenge for all coaches.

We thought this was a great initiative to share with our Roller Derby Coaches.

Each week we will post the weekly challenges for coaches to undertake.

Share your journey as a skater or a coach with us and let us know how you go!


Week 1

Challenge: Do not speak for more than 30 seconds at a time.

Too often we see coaches talking and athletes listening with very little engagement, learning and understanding.

Your challenge is never speak for more than 30 seconds at a time.

Of course, you can stop the game or drill and provide feedback, corrections or progressions but at no time can you speak for more than 30 seconds.

The Rationale: There are 3 reasons we like this challenge: physiological, pedagogical, and periodisation.

Firstly, every time an activity is stopped for the coach to speak heart rates, breathing rates and sweating rates start to return to resting levels.

Do this often enough and for long enough and it means that you’re going to have to find other times in your already squeezed schedule to do ‘fitness stuff’.

On the other hand, if lecture time is minimised, the athletes get a conditioning effect through the regular practice.

Secondly, by limiting your speaking time to 30 seconds means your drills and games need to be familiar to your athletes.

While young coaches often think their more experienced counter parts have a wider selection of drills/games, the truth is that the experienced coaches seem to have small collection of drills/game but plenty of options, variations and progressions.

Lastly, the ’30 Second Challenge’ prevents any drill that ‘I saw on YouTube’/the All Blacks do/’I’ve just made up’ from suddenly appearing at practice.

It means that a coach must break the drill/game down into it’s simplest parts, introduce it to the athletes and can only progress it when the athletes are ready.

3 good reasons to accept this challenge.

Remember, most athletes prefer to ‘do’ rather than ‘listen’.

- See more at:

While young coaches often think their more experienced counter parts have a wider selection of drills/games, the truth is that the experienced coaches seem to have small collection of drills/game but plenty of options, variations and progressions.

Lastly, the ’30 Second Challenge’ prevents any drill that ‘I saw on YouTube’/the All Blacks do/’I’ve just made up’ from suddenly appearing at practice.

It means that a coach must break the drill/game down into it’s simplest parts, introduce it to the athletes and can only progress it when the athletes are ready.

3 good reasons to accept this challenge.

Remember, most athletes prefer to ‘do’ rather than ‘listen’.

Check out the PropelPerform website here for the direct page of the challenge and subscribe to their mailing list!

Featured Skater - Team Australia's Kit Cat Krunch

25th July 2014

Derby Name: Kit Cat Krunch

Derby Number: 9 lives

League: Adelaide Roller Derby

Position: All rounder

How did you get into derby and how long have you been playing?
When I got back from living in the UK I took my mother to an ADRD game in 2008 as she use to skate banked track back in the late 70's in Sydney. Tried out for Fresh meat that year and was vice captain for the new Road Train Rollers. My mother is now my biggest fan and even my little sister Libsmacker is playing roller derby too.

Highlight of your derby career?
Being shortlisted for Australian Team in 2011 and now being selected as part of this amazing squad in 2014. This time my wedding won't clash with the world cup so fingers crossed I get to rep Australia this time round.

What is your personal derby goal?
Every year there are changes made to the game and every year there are new strategies to learn and master. I will never stop to continue to improve my game and also I want to share and give back as much as I can to my league and team mates to help keep lifting the bar for our sport.

Who is your Derby Idol?
Smarty Pants was the first international trainer that I was ever coached by and I have had the privilege of being coached by her nearly every year seen then. Smarty has skated banked track and flat track and never stops finding new strategies and new skills to improve her game. Ms pants is my idol as she inspires me to continue to learn more no matter how many years you've been skating for.

What is the best piece of advice you could give and up and coming derby player?
I doesn't matter what size or shape you are. you want to excel at this sport then build a solid core and work just as hard on your off skates fitness as you do on-skates.

*Thanks to Roaringstorm Photography for supplying this image, for more click here.

BMJRDL's First Interleague Bout

22nd July 2014

Words by Doctor Hoo Hoo

It wasn’t long after the Blue Mountains Roller Derby League launched in July 2011 that some of the skaters’ kids (and some other interested teens) insisted that they were not satisfied with just watching derby, they needed to lace up some skates and hit the track themselves - the Mountains needed a junior league too! Meetings were held, applications made, info sessions run, and in January 2012 the Blue Mountains Junior Roller Derby League (BMJRDL) was born.

Our little league found its feet in 2012 under trainers Roxy Tocin and Moulin Bruise and our skaters quickly picked up their basic skating skills (much faster than the grown ups). In 2013 after training hard for over a year, we were invited by the senior league to play a bout at one of their home team games.  That May, we played one of the first junior derby bouts in NSW – a night of excitement and pride for our skaters, trainers and families.

Our juniors are bout hungry, and the senior league has continued to show their support and satisfy their appetites with regular bout invites. As far as we know, there is only one other bout level junior league in the state and they are way up in Tweed Heads, so most of our bouts so far have been at home between our home teams; the Blue Slammers and the Little Red Riding Hoodlums, we’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of road trips too. The Western Sydney Rollers asked us to bout at their 2013 home team semi finals, and in August 2013 we were invited to run through a few demo jams in front of our biggest audience yet at a bout between the Australian and New Zealand men’s teams at Sydney Boys High.

In 2014, it was time to step things up a notch and emails began flying between Roxy Tocin and Mama B, President and Head Coach of Lil’ Adelaide Rollers (LAR). Before we knew it we were staring down the barrel of our very first interleague bout against LAR’s mighty travel team, The Roller Rebels. The months before were a frenzy of travel team name votes, logo creation, bout shirt and merch orders and more than a little bit of training. Having only ever played against each other, and given the range in age of our teams (10-16 years old), until now our skaters had probably held back a little on the contact in their derby, but we knew we’d need to change that in the lead up to this bout, so we enlisted the help of the senior league and had some of their most experienced skaters (as well as their refs and NSOs) coming along to and joining in with our scrim sessions. Our skaters were playing stronger and smarter derby than ever and were as ready as they’d ever be.

When the night before – and the Roller Rebels – finally arrived, our freshly named ‘Juniorcorns’ were tightly wound little bundles of excited nerves as we met for a social skate and some pizza. Some of our younger skaters were looking pretty scared at the older LAR girls and possibly wondering what they had signed up for.

It was a pretty intense game for our Juniorcorns, the level of experience of the Roller Rebels was clear from the outset and our team struggled to score points. Finally, close to half time, our jam ref held up some fingers and to a chorus of cheers from all sections of the crowd, some points were added to our side of the score board. They hit the change rooms at half time a little shell shocked at LAR 257 – BMJRDL 4. Messages of support via Facebook from one of our trainers who was overseas, and in person from a couple of local derby heroes who had come to watch the bout helped our benchies, Jakson Polax and Roxy Tocin buoy the spirits of our girls, and they headed out for the second half ready to do it all over again. They showed tremendous heart and courage and skated hard to the very end to finish the bout LAR 461 – BMJRDL 9, a well deserved win for the lovely LAR girls and a well fought bout for our Juniorcorns. 

It’s been so valuable for our skaters to finally play a ‘for-real’ bout, it’s why they started derby and what they’ve been working towards for more than two years. It’s been great to watch them have that experience and to see their response to it. The score was not as close as they would have liked and a result like that could either defeat them or fire them up. We’re pleased to say it’s fired them up - they want to improve their game and their skills, their determination is pretty inspiring.

We’re very much looking forward to a time when the Juniorcorns can play bouts without either team having to catch a plane to get there (Hint: all leagues should start a junior league!), but in the mean time, they’ll take whatever opportunities they can get.

*Photos thanks to D J Wright

Featured Skater - Team Australia's Muzzarati

18th July 2014

Derby Name: Muzzarati

Derby Number: 28

Age: 32

League: Sun State Roller Girls

Position: Blocker

How did you get into derby and how long have you been playing?
I started playing roller derby in 2009.
My Queensland Teachers Union rep and I were having a conversation about sports we played and I mentioned I did artistic skating as a youngster and had also played rugby league and union. She invited me to watch a game and the rest is history.

Highlight of your derby career?
World Cup 2011

What is your personal derby goal?
I'm really happy with what I have achieved in derby so far. Being a part of the 2011 & 2014 Team Australia squads is more than I could have ever dreamed of. If and when I eventually retire, I would love to stay involved in the sport by perhaps coaching or refereeing.

Who is your Derby Idol?
Serelson, she is such an amazing defensive blocker. I'm particularly a fan of her backwards blocking.

What is the best piece of advice you could give and up and coming derby player?
A lot of skaters when they start out often make the comment that they are playing derby to get fit. It really doesn't work that way. You need to get fit to play derby. When I came to this realisation myself and changed my attitude to exercise, it really made a difference to my game.

*A huge thanks to Roaringstorm Photography for allowing the use of this image, for more images likes these, click here.

Featured Skater - Team Australia's Annabelle Lecter

11th July 2014

Derby Name: Annabelle Lecter

Derby Number: 8

Age: 31

League: Sydney Roller Derby League

Position: Wherever I'm needed!

How did you get into derby and how long have you been playing?
This is my 8th year. I discovered derby when I first moved to Brisbane; I was looking for a sports club of some kind to join to meet people and get fit. I came across a small group wanting to start up this crazy new sport they had seen online from America, involving roller skates, full contact, costumes and alter egos. It sounded awesomely fun, so I signed up right away, and haven't looked back since!

Highlight of your derby career?
Oh, this is a hard one, there are so many to choose from! Skating in the 2010 TGSS 2-point Grand Final. Having the opportunity to train with LADD and Gotham on the RDX banked track. Playing with a very tiny squad (and an injury) and still taking out the Skate-turion tournament with NBR in 2013. Or bench coaching the Wizards of Aus to 5th place at the Men's World Cup. But the ultimate would be representing my country on skates at the B&T World Cup!

What is your personal derby goal?
I'm aiming to reach at least 100 games before I retire - and it's not that far off. Beyond that, I'd like to be able to spend more time giving back to the derby community through coaching and officiating.

Who is your Derby Idol?
Gotham's legendary hive mind. Whilst I am in total awe of the individual skills of skaters like Bonnie Thunders and Sexy Slaydie, it's the whole team dynamic that is truly impressive with how smart and intuitive they operate.

What is the best piece of advice you could give and up and coming derby player?
This sport is HARD, and it takes years to even reach a level when you're understanding most of the things that are going on around you on the track. So be patient! The "magic light bulb moment" I see in skaters usually happens around the 3rd year. So don't ever put yourself down if you don't "get it" straight away; just focus on smaller goals, one step at a time, and enjoy the journey! Even 8 year veterans like myself still have a lot to learn.

*Thanks to Roaringstorm Photography for allowing the use of this awesome photo for Lecter's profile. For more, click here.

Featured Skater - Team Australia's Dodge&Bolt

4th July 2014

Derby Name: Dodge&Bolt

Derby Number: 58

Age: 25

League: Sun State Roller Girls

Position: Whatever needs doing!

How did you get into derby and how long have you been playing?
Five years ago I saw a sign on a toilet door that said "We want you to play roller derby" with a lady Uncle Sam and I thought "damn, I want me to play roller derby!"

Highlight of your derby career?
All of it! Team Australia 2011, RDX banked track bootcamp, every RollerCon and Tropicarnage, anything I get to do with Sun State's Swarm

What is your personal derby goal?
To continue to represent my country and my league at the highest levels to the best of my ability. I've already achieved so many goals I never thought would be possible, now I never want the ride to end!

Who is your Derby Idol?
So many! Chantilly Mace for being the ultimate DerbyBot, Juska for her athleticism, Scald Eagle for always looking like she's having the most fun on the track, Demands Riot for general badassery.

What is the best piece of advice you could give and up and coming derby player?
Keep going! With everything. Everything that's hard or seems silly or like it doesn't work it any of it, keep going. Try everything. You never know when you'll need it. And for the love of injury prevention, cross train!!

**Thanks again to Roaringstorm Photography for allowing us to use this image, more can be found here!


Blockie's TGSS Diary

1st July 2014

I sat down at my computer this morning and said to myself, “Okay, Self, let’s write a recap of TGSS for the nice folks in RDA-land”. I sat, my fingers hovering expectantly over the keyboard, and thought about how I would begin that story. Or what I’d put in the middle. How might I, merely some guy who went there, actually disseminate that monumental event into one readable piece of writing? How do I sufficiently give props the fifty+ teams who were represented? How do I mention every game, every memorable moment? How do I quite encapsulate the years of preparation every person put in - this before even considering the demi-gods who actually organised the event? My mind literally boggled.

By this point, my hovering fingers had begun to ache and quiver, and I think I had a mild stroke even attempting to wrap my mind around the enormity of it all. I gave up and instead decided to write a diary of MY Great Southern Slam (which, if I’m perfectly honest, was about 80% swanning around Adelaide in a scarf and drinking coffee).

Day One: The Descent Upon Adelaide

My alarm goes off at 4:15am and I am pleased to discover that I feel mostly like an alive human person, which is a nice departure from the way I normally feel when we have to get the first flight of the day. Either I’m becoming a morning person against my will, or I’m so excited about what’s waiting at the other end that getting up this early is almost worth it,

After an uneventful flight, we arrive in Adelaide replete with fuzzy bee hoodies, passing the time before our vans arrive by having an impromptu 8:00am sidewalk dance party, the party tunes pumping from a portable speaker. After a few minutes we notice a rotund, middle-age taxi driver making his way over to us from the taxi rank about 20 metres away. We murmur amongst ourselves, sure we’re about to be told off for being too noisy or making a scene. When he reaches us, however, he begins to bust out some of the most bangingest dance moves I’ve seen to this day. Happiness ensues and the dance party recommences, now with 100% more sassy cab driver. Oh Adelaide, we are off on the right foot.

The co-dependants (read: all of us) track each other down across the city and hug for a bit longer than is probably necessary. The first of many visits to friend-of-the-Adelaidies cafe Horner and Pratt is made, and it is every bit as wondrous as I remember. The rest of the day is spent sitting down, eating, reading, and napping, before the Team Australia kids head off to a training session with Sausage Rolls (more on this to follow!).

Day Two: It Begins

I’m equal parts excited and terrified as we depart Sun State Headquarters with the task of playing two leagues we never have before. We’re grouped with Newcastle and Convict City, who both turn out, as I might have guessed, to be totally excellent. What pleases me most about roller derby is the consistently fantastic people we are all presented with year in and year out.

We’re incredibly fortunate this season to have inherited our very own derby-specific trainer, Zac Buckley, and his legendary warm up session gets us reluctantly moving on this cold Adelaide morning. We begin peer pressuring him to call hip flexor warm ups “opening the buffet” but he resists. He’ll come around; we just need time.

I rarely get to actually cheer for my team, so having the opportunity to be a Beer Squad member in our second game is like an actual dream come true (although the ever-present TGSS Death Flu and a very real fear of losing my voice mean any cheering must be pretty chilled). To be honest, I am mostly grateful purely for the opportunity to spend more time in my bee hoodie. Both Newcastle and Convict City play fierce and smart games, attacking with gusto and never slowing down.

As the victor in our pool, Sun State progress to play Northside from Melbourne this evening. With a few hours up our sleeve, we retire to SSRGHQ to eat and nap, and people who aren’t me casually chat about life, the universe and everything. I, on the other hand, sit and pretended to listen, an unconvincing smile on my face, as waves of nausea wash over me - the prospect of playing a team I’d never even clapped eyes on before is not one I relish. I stare blankly at the group, radiating with panic inside, as the perfectly normal conversation swirls around me. I can hear laughter, though it’s only upon hearing my name that I actually become fully conscious.

“[mumbling, words, talking sounds] just like you, hey, Blockie?” someone says; people laugh. Coming back to Earth, I stare at them, eyes wide, unsure of what I’m being asked and/or told.

“HA HA HA,” I respond like a car-sick robot. “Yes, I agree with what was said,” I manage before immediately resuming my zoned-out panic.

Little did I know, by the end of the night, Northside would become my favourite humans on the planet. Not only did they play a hard and ever-evolving game, but their beautiful attitudes and positivity just made me fall so hard for them. After our game, Sun State stood on the side of the road waiting for the party vans to collect us, as car after car of Northside skaters poured out of the car park to head home. Their farewell convoy of beeping horns and maniacal cheers out their windows is by far one of my favourite memories from the weekend.

Day Three: We did a bit of work; time to rest and play.

Slawta Dawta had a birthday! And as we love both her and breakfast, we had a Slawta Birthday Breakfast. It was lovely, but she didn’t even cry; I am reasonably convinced it was not actually her, but in fact some kind of Slawta-like robot. The jury is still out.

We visit Horner and Pratt again; lovely employee jokes about how she will never get rid of us and we solemnly nod in agreement. While fully aware of the inherent danger, I take my credit card on a trip to the Dangerfield store (I’m unsure where my assigned adult was to ensure I made good choices, but I did an okay job nonetheless). I meet a husky puppy so offensively cute it makes my eyes water, and harass another gentleman walking his three dogs. Against all our better judgement, we visit boutique chocolate store Cocolat. I regret nothing.

The rest of this day is a hazy grey area; I have to assume I was asleep. That definitely sounds like something I would have done.

Day Four: It’s the Final Countdown (Please Google an image of GOB dancing to this song for full effect)

Sun State is fast becoming BFFs with Canberra, this morning’s game being the third time we’ve met on the track in the last six months alone. If I thought I was nervous yesterday, that was only because I hadn’t properly thought about the fact that we might meet Canberra in the semi-finals yet.

At this point I’m verging on tiredness-induced delirium. Skid Vicious volunteers as my own sentient coffee table, delivering caffeine between bouts of limb flailing (normally known as warm up, but this morning it’s looking pretty rough). Zac tells us we will now warm up our hip flexors; we bellow “open the buffet!” in response. He mumbles something under his breath and averts his eyes.

What follows is 60 minutes of the most tight-chested, high intensity, super-serious-business derby I’ve ever had the privilege of playing. The supporters in the crowd from both teams bring with them a level of enthusiasm that ought to be commended in this 9:00am timeslot. We very literally eked out a win, which meant going on to meet Victoria this evening in the grand final game.

Getting ready for the Victoria game feels a bit like deja vu, but at the same time, it feels completely different. I’m a different skater and Sun State is a different team, as VRDL no doubt are, too. We begin the familiar routine of warming up when Zac announces, “And for one last last time...let’s open the buffet.” We clap and cheer, excited beyond reason, and begin to throw our legs about with gay abandon. Tonight is already great!

I’m not sure I know enough words to possibly describe the grand final of TGSS14. This is, without a doubt, the biggest crowd I’ve played for to date. Over a thousand people have sardined themselves into the pavillion grandstands and they are ready. I can still hear the thunderous rumble of the crowd counting down from ten seconds to the first whistle, and it still gives me chills. As many times as I have daydreamed about this very moment over the last couple of years,  it’s somehow even more incredible than I have ever imagined. No matter how the score looks in sixty minutes time, this evening has already gone straight to the poolroom. This is where Australian derby meets, and while we’re competitors, we’re all in it together - for a common goal, for the betterment of our sport within Australia and for the growth of Australia in the grand scheme of our sport. Being surrounded by my peers, by supporters of either team and of derby itself, the atmosphere is indescribable.

I went to the after party wearing a full-length leotard and did something that was a bit like a sad puppet dancing, because my belly was uncomfortably full of Indian food that really did seem like a good idea at the time. We made one final trip to Horner and Pratt the next day, and I entered cafe rehab shortly after.

Thank you, Adelaide and TGSS. Can we do it again soon?

Thanks to Richard Tompsett for allowing the use of his images on the RDA website! For more click here!

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