Thursday, October 24, 2013

Should Refs Look Forward to Skill Practices?

Sometimes leagues have to have skills/drills or "skrills" practices to get certain strategies down pat.  Skaters don't always squeal with glee when it comes to these drill practices; in fact, one of the biggest laments most skaters have is "why aren't we scrimmaging this practice?  Scrimmaging is way more fun than drills." Yes yes, scrimmaging is way more fun than drills.  Who doesn't know that?  I know a lot of skaters compare doing drills and skrills to eating your vegetables; you have to do things that you don't want to so you can be healthy.  Sometimes drills are like that for skaters; they make us better in the long run, and sometimes they're actually fun.  But funner than scrimmage?  No way.
Scrimmage is the funnest!

I am one of those skaters who sometimes approaches a skrills practice with a heavy sigh;sometimes it's hard to get excited about the idea of drills, but I usually enjoy them after I get started.

It's interesting, because I hear the refs say the same thing.  Some refs tend to turn up their noses at attending a skrills practice, and I get it. I really really get it, but I don't necessarily understand it very well. A couple of years ago, I started coaching and reffing our Collision men's roller derby team; I didn't care if they were having a skrills practice or doing an actual scrimmage. Either way, I knew I could learn from whatever they were running.  Scrimmage is fun, but sometime having to watch for certain penalties in certain situations is a great way to train your eye for a game. Narrowing your focus can take away some of the crazy distractions that derby can provide during scrimmage or in a game. Practice in all forms does a ref and a skater good.

Just think about it this way, refs have a chance to talk about calls during a skrills practice.  They may even have MORE of a chance to talk about calls because they can step away and discuss something while the drill continues; you can't do that during a scrimmage.  Skaters get impatient, they don't want to "waste" scrimmage time while refs discuss the definitions of certain penalties.  Also, skaters are probably going to be more receptive to hearing a penalty while they're in learning mode.  Maybe that doesn't factor into your motivation, but it should!

Just look here if you have doubts.

Don't believe me?  Listen to some of the refs and skaters I propositioned, I mean questioned.

 "It helps the players and myself. I also participate in endurance and footwork drills. Any sort of contact or pack/bridging type drills I'll assume the ref role to make the applicable calls or facilitate as needed." Freddy Mercury Poisoning

"Yes. If I don't work out like the players, how the hell am I supposed to keep up with them?  I ref anything with contact during practice. Even if it is something like 2 on 1 or a line hitting drill. It helps me to see things on a smaller scale so I can recognize it better during a game. Our TC does touch base with me and I have a good working relationship with them so I know what is coming during practice. Also, I explain to the skaters that it is practice for the refs too, and we are in a constant state of learning." Vanna Down by the River

 "We've actually been discussing with TC making the drills more structured so our Wed ref practice can be more efficient. Front load the drills that need refs so the refs can spend the rest of practice that night on rules discussions or drills for our own footwork/skating. That way, we won't be pulled into drills piecemeal throughout the practice." Frag Doll

"Most of our refs come to practices as well; not every ref at every practice, but at least 2-3 at most practices. They warm up and do agility/skating type drills with the skaters, then ref our contact and scrimmage type drills, even if its small scale drills like 1 jammer/3 blockers and such. It helps us get used to getting called when we commit penalties, rather than learning bad habits that are going to land us in the box, and helps them learn what/when to call it. And after drill/jam, skaters and refs can ask questions for rule clarifications/etc. If its a full scale scrimmage situation the skater actually takes the penalty, but in smaller drills the penalized skater either exits, does five pushups, and returns immediately to the track, or waits till after the "mini-jam" to do their push-ups." Becky Bloody Professor Misenheimer

It's a win win situation.  Refs get to practice and hone their skills, and skaters learn to play even cleaner. Who doesn't love a win win situation? I'm hoping that all of the skaters who read this actively encourage their refs to show up, even if it's for a "lowly" skrills practice! 



  1. Skills and drills are very important. I myself need to practice my skating skills, I also think that there should be a set schedule for, endurance, drills and scrimmages . I would be more inclined to participate if I knew there was a certain amount if time allotted for scrimmages. More disciplined practice instead of socializing would also be helpful in our league .

  2. I completely agree with what Vanna Down by the River wrote. And more practice for officials will, in turn, be beneficial for everyone involved.