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If you're unfamiliar with Bring It On, it's a throw away movie about a cheer leading squad who discovers at the last moment before their championship, they have to create an entirely new routine. In order to make their routine exciting, unique and challenging, they research all types of dance styles, mime, and even martial arts. Of course, they have a great routine and even learn a lesson or two about how to be a team, blah blah blah. I never said it was Shakespeare, but I think that it does have a lesson that derby training can learn from, we all need to think outside of the box and look to new areas for training.
Derby is a fairly new sport, regardless of its several incarnations in the past; we have to look to various sports and physical exploits to glean some skills from; it's fine and good to watch derby and see what other teams might be doing to get those footwork skills, but have you looked at non roller sports to make your team even more awesomer? (Awesomer is a perfectly cromulent word.) Here are some ideas for you to research if you're looking to up your game.
1. Soccer footwork drills. According to some of the Gotham team members I've been lucky to interview, soccer drills can make all of the difference in footwork. Off skates drills are not my favorite part of derby practice, but they do seem to be working. The great thing about soccer drills is you can literally find them anywhere on the web; I can't wait for derby to be as universal as soccer is.
2. Watch all of the hockey. Seriously, why aren't derby peeps watching more hockey? They have excellent footwork and are capable of skating every which way on a dime. Hockey players have great transitions, and have you seen those hits? Damn. I want that kind of control!
3. Football blocks. I think we all saw the wonderful footage of Scald Eagle clobbering a blocker who was facing the wrong way, but if you have been living in a cave, here it is. Boom! BOOM! Every time I watch the footage, and I watch it a lot, I think about how football players drive with their legs and hit hard. I think if someone is skating backwards on the track, or moving in the opposite direction, it's your duty to put them on their butt. With love.
4. Martial Arts. Sounds extreme? It shouldn't. Martial arts can help you with your balance, core strength and awareness. So many people skate and don't pay attention to their surroundings on the track; jammers have it easy when it comes to the knowing they'll going to get hit; everyone wants to hit a jammer, but blockers are easily distracted and in danger of getting blindsided. Martial arts can help you increase your awareness and focus. Most of us could use that kind of training.
So go out and find some skills from other sports; beg, borrow and steal from the other sports and bring all of that yummy goodness back to derby! I think that we can get some great ideas from the other sports and make ours even stronger, all it takes is creativity and drive!