New Skater Survival 101: Rollercon on skates 2013

This could also be called: “How to look like you know what you’re doing in scrimmage when the vets are watching” but I thought that name would be too long.

Teaching new skaters is one of my true passions. I love seeing the ah ha moments of men and women when they finally understand how someone accomplishes a feat they see on the floor. We often overlook telling our new skaters these skills for several reasons: 1) We flat out forget! It’s been a while since we were learning! 2) We tell ourselves that they’re not ready. This is BS everyone can do these skills and they will help EVERYONE be a stronger skater. 3) We don’t do them ourselves.

Training is much different now than it was in 2009, and new skaters have the advantage of not having to go through the learning curves of training that the rest of us did. So, enjoy. I’m sorry that there aren’t more photos. I did my best!! If you have any questions, or want to increase your level of awesome on the floor by upping your nutrition, drop me a line at


Skill 1: Back Foot Push. Start by doing a regular “eggshell” push (keep all 8 on the floor and bring your feet in and out in an egg shape). To practice the back foot push, your right foot goes in front of your body, and (keeping all 8 wheels on the floor) you push with the left foot, which is behind your right foot. It is easier the lower you get, and I bob up and down when I do it to gain momentum. The back foot should be making figure 8s behind your front foot. Your front foot is just guiding, the back foot is doing all the work. Imagine a line running directly under your body, like a tightrope: your front foot should be centered on that line, your back foot should be curving back and forth over it. This will strengthen all the small muscles and stabilizers in your legs and hips so that you can develop a strong push. Remember: when you’re doing your crossovers you must STEP with your right foot and push with your left. YOU MUST BEND YOUR KNEES MORE TO ACCOMPLISH THIS.


Step with the right, push with the left. Copyright 2013 by Bob Dunnell. Please do not remove watermarks from this photo. To purchase prints of this photo, please visit the following link:
Step with the right, push with the left.
Copyright 2013 by Bob Dunnell. Please do not remove watermarks from this photo.
To purchase prints of this photo, please visit the following link:

Skill 2: Derby Position the better way – B in V. When squatting and practicing derby position, over arch your back to keep your head upward: the desired effect will make you look like a chair, and your behind will be approximately the height of your opponent’s no-no area. Practice hip motion & laterals from this position, particularly when ‘sitting’ on someone. Feel their motion under you. Now control THEIR motion.

The first step to being able to do this position successfully is not cheating your squats. When you bend your knees, don’t lean over, push your butt back. If you lift weights, or do CrossFit, it is that active hip positioning that you want for your behind – like you’re about to deadlift. If you don’t lift weights, time to start and get some instruction on it! Not only will it teach you the proper body form, but it will strengthen what you need to consistently and strongly execute your skates and positional blocking.


Skill 3: One Spot Blocking. Get in your good B in V position. Look over one shoulder at a spot on the floor where you can see hips and legs of your approaching, opposing jammer. I do my best not to focus on the spot so much as look at it and use my periphery while I have my head turned. Practice watching that spot and moving laterally. When an opponent is behind you, move laterally to keep her behind you. If she bursts, burst over and up a little. “But if my head is one way, how will I see where she goes?” If the opponent disappears from your sight over your right shoulder, she can only be one place: to your left. I have a tendency to look over my right shoulder when guarding the inside line, and over my left when in the middle or outside line. The lines are a barrier so you don’t need to worry about that extra space, so focus on the larger area of the track.


Holly Go Hardly doesn't need to snap her head back & forth to know where her opponent is. She keeps her head steady, and sits on her opponent to feel her movement. Notice how the inside & outside line blockers are looking? Wonderful! Photo by Tyler Shaw - Prints Charming Derby Photography
Holly Go Hardly doesn’t need to snap her head back & forth to know where her opponent is. She keeps her head steady, and sits on her opponent to feel her movement.
Notice how the inside & outside line blockers are looking? Wonderful!
Photo by Tyler Shaw – Prints Charming Derby Photography

Skill 4: Football Tackle. To break a wall, think about starting low and driving up, as if attacking a tackling dummy in football. Turn your shoulder to break any tension between the wall (and to avoid back block calls). It is ok if you don’t hit the opponent, but I will often aim for any weak spots in the wall (if an opponent has a butt sticking out a little bit or if someone’s ribs are a little exposed). Hitting that weak spot will temporarily open a spot in the wall that you can then burst through. KEEP YOUR FEET MOVING.


Skill 5: Shoulder in Glut. Still can’t break the wall? Use the pointy part of your shoulder and thrust upward into the flat part of your opponent’s glut. Even if it doesn’t move them completely, it may surprise them and open a hole. Again, your shoulder should be turned, and you should be moving your feet while you do this so that when the whole opens, you are there to take advantage.


Skill 6: Looking at the Hole. You go where you aim, right? Don’t look at the blockers as you approach, look at the space between them. Use your periphery vision to keep check on those coming to clean your clock. Keep your feet moving, your breathing steady and just go for the spot between the blockers (turning your shoulders). Having good, strong footwork and balance is really important for this, because you need to trust that your body is going to do the right thing at the right moment if you get hit. It’s about speed, burst and trust. Turn your brain off and just do it.


FOR SKILLS 4,5,6:  You can practice these in groups of three, have 2 people set up a wall and have the third person work on the appropriate wall breaking skill. You can also set up your team in pairs around the track and have one person at a time go through each pair to get practice in successively accomplishing each wall break. You can do it stationary or moving.


Skill 7: The 180 Hip Snap. Why use extra time to spin on wheels, when you can leave the ground? Snap your hips and leave the ground for a MILLIMETER… this should not be a hop or jump. It’s about confidence. You should land with a wide base. Start practicing this by getting on your toe stops (with one foot forward and one backwards at least ‘shoulder length’ apart) and bounce so that your hips change from forwards to backwards. You should be able to do this all day. From there, get on your wheels, and keep your base wide, practice the same motion of just snapping your hips to come off the ground.

If you’re not brave enough to commit, you may feel your front wheels staying on the ground. OR you’ll land before your skates have turned the other direction. Breathe, get your eyes off the floor, bend your knees and just snap. If it helps, try it off skates first!!


Skill 8: Running through a Pack. Ok, this is scary, I know. Most of us don’t believe that we can actually pick up our skates while in close proximity to other people. To practice running, first do it solo. Push on your skates as normal to get up to 50% speed, then – run! Actually pick your feet up like you are running a sprint on sneakers. I will say that having your feet turned out (in a duck run) is going to help you with stability and speed, but don’t be afraid to experiment with balance and foot position!

To practice this in a group, have skaters create a very tight double pace line. The lines should be able to touch each other easily forward and to the side. It should be a tight fit. One at a time, skaters should take turns running and picking up their feet to get through the middle of the double pace line. Hands down, eyes up, feet moving, shoulder turned.

Here are some videos that can help demonstrate a couple of these ideas at least… The quality is not the most amazing, but it gets the point across…

Skating Solo & intro to 180s

Lateral Spins and Hit/Reset

Tricks for the Toolbox

Sponsorship 101 RC Class

These notes are based on my outline from my Rollercon class. I know that we covered more in the question section than I may have included. Please, feel free to ask questions at the bottom of the blog or add notes in the bottom of other things we talked about. You can also contact me at for other questions.

Also, I apologize for the formatting. WordPress has no love for Microsoft Word.


Why Sponsorship?

This seems like an obvious question, but many of us forget that sponsorship not just “brings in money” but it pays for bout production (including rental, tape, EMTs, hospitality, the paycheck for the teams that we bring in), travel costs and extras like banquets, gifts and that little slush fund to make sure we can pay our rink rental fee in case the vets forget to pay their dues again.

When approaching sponsorship, we must do so with an open mind, a willingness to work with others, a humility to accept outside ideas and an understanding that this is one of the hardest parts (and most crucial) of running a roller derby league. We are a business. We need to treat ourselves like one.


Identify What Your League Has to Offer

  1. Physically – What can your league give sponsors? Examples: Ad space in the program, Pivot Line, Penalty Box, banners at home bouts, space in bathroom flyers during home bouts, webspace, social media placement, announcer spots, space on booty shorts, space in the middle of the track, scoreboard space … You are limited only by your imagination
  2. Business-Wise – What are your metrics? Who is your audience? Who comes to your home bouts now, and who are you targeting to get to your home bouts? Do you market to specific neighborhoods? Age groups? You must be familiar with not only the demographics of your crowd/target market (where they live, how old they are) but the Ethnographic data as well (what are their hobbies, what do they value). If you have none, then it’s time to collect some data. Work with your marketing chair to determine these. Doing a quick online survey (where you ask derby girls to NOT fill out the information) could be a great way to get started on building metrics.
  3. Do not overlook the importance of in kind donations.
    1. Ask for the money first, but when a business cannot provide a check, ask if they can provide water for bouts, a spot for the after party, a basket to raffle, items for hospitality, etc.

The Basics

  1. Are you a 501c3 or an LLC?
    1. LLCs cannot take donations, but you can sell ads. 501c3s cannot sell ads, but they can take donations. Check with your lawyers and rules to get the specific semantics involved in the legal mumbojumbo
  2. Don’t focus on either packages OR ads, you must diversify to attract as many sponsors as possible
    1. Ad sizes: Full Page, Half Page, Quarter Page, Eighth page (business card)
    2. Prices should not simply double as the ad space doubles. A good starting point for ads is: Eighth $35, Quarter $50, Half $75, Full $100
    3. Can you offer a $50 add-on for color ads? What about $25 to design the ad for the business?
  3. Decide what payment forms you will accept – cash, check, Paypal are the good ways to start.
  4. Look at your budget for the year to determine goals. Work with your Treasurer (at minimum) or your whole Board (at max) to look at the budget for expected expenses for the upcoming season. Projected travel trips, how much the team wants to commit to paying for skaters, any possible ref clinics or coach training that could come up, number of home bouts to cover, etc etc. If you do not have a budget, time to build one! From there, Set your sponsorship goal at least $1000 higher than your top range number. It’s better to shoot high and fall short.
  5. Don’t know what to price your packages and ads at? Look at other sports teams in your area. Call up playhouses, baseball teams, high schools and get their package pricing guides. Do some research and see what your competition is offering for sponsorship.

Creating Materials

  1.  You don’t need a brochure! Spending money on high quality printed materials may be an expense your league can do without. Can you put everything you need on a one-sheet of paper? If you have people who can speak well and sell the packages, let them do the selling. Don’t rely on your brochure to do the selling for you.
  2. Get a printer to sponsor you! Then, your shiny sponsorship packet that your President insists you create will be much cheaper. Get an in kind trade, and see if they’ll print your bout posters and programs too.
  3. Can’t get a printer sponsor? If you’re doing a black and white one sheet, approach local law offices. Ask them to print them for you in return for advertising space.
  4. Work with the marketing department to create visuals
  5. ELECTRONIC VERSIONS ARE NECESSARY!! Put them on your website and your social media sites for businesses to find easily.

Distributing materials & collecting money

  1. Get your whole league involved. If that means establishing a requirement of $25 of ad space sold per quarter or $50 of ad space per year.
  2. Create a list of ideal sponsors for the year. Have league members sign up to speak to specific sponsors (If they know someone in the business that should get priority).
  3. Create a separate list where league members can list businesses where they have a contact already.
  4. Do not let money get transferred through too many people. The sponsorship person can collect and deposit money and then immediately report deposits to treasurer. Creating a paper trail is key to prevent internal theft and money issues.
  5. When league members are distributing materials, they should be briefed beforehand on a history of the league and of roller derby. (Some leagues require a public relations class before a skater is allowed to certify) If they don’t know the answer to a question, they should say that they don’t know the answer, but will find out for them.
  6. Who is the info going to? If you know who your target market is, you know who you should be courting as sponsors. Decide ahead of time your stance on political groups, religious groups, sex-industry businesses, etc.


  1. Decide league goals before you go any further. If you don’t know what the goal is, what are you fundraising for? Some goals could be to host more home bouts, to travel more, to have a big public event or tournament.
  2. If your league members are already heavily involved in sponsorship, offer rewards for participation (lower banquet fees, money off of travel costs). If they refuse to be involved, make it a mandatory requirement.
  3. Be creative, always be looking for the next sponsorship opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask for the sale!

Fancy Football Footwork – Merry Khaos Notes

Here is another class that I revisited at BEAT ME HALFWAY 2014! I’m just going to revamp this blog to incorporate some of the new, fun stuff we did at BMH. We didn’t have the space we did during RollerCon, so we couldn’t do as many of the fun routes.

This was my most popular class .. probably because it was offered the most out of all of them! Here is a run down of what we did (mostly), and explanation of the trickier named things on the list, and drawings of the ladders and routes. E-mail me at if you need further explanations!

For everything – focus on derby position, sharpness and PRECISION. It is better to do it slow, low and precise than sloppy, high and fast.

Warm Up
“Jump Rope” (basic, feet back/forth, feet in/out) – each for a minute
Squat Jumps

Walk these across a space:
Lunge & Stretch – As you lunge, bring the elbow of the side that is forward down to the floor next to that foot (right leg is forward, right elbow comes to match it), look up at the ceiling, hold for a second and come up.
Side Lunge – You will move to your right, bringing your left leg behind your right and touching your knee to the floor in a ‘lunge’. Stand back up, and now bring your left leg in front of your right to complete the lunge. You should do this both directions.
Monster Walk – Keep your body tight. Flex your feet and bring your right leg to a 90 degree angle with your body. This should be slow, controlled and precise. This is NOT a high kick. This is not fast. Bring your foot back down slow and controlled. You should have only traveled one length of your own foot.

Feet Warm Up:
Shuffle Step
Grapvine (hips square)
Back Pedal
Quick Feet (feet shoulder length)
Quick feet (wide stance)

Quick feet = lowering yourself into derby position, and jack hammering your feet into the floor. When in the short stance, you should be on your toes. When in the wide stance, you should be on your heels.

The goal is to hit both feet on each step to increase the difficulty. It’s better to add an extra step in rather than trip up your brain. Also, if you lead with one foot the first time through, try to lead with the other foot on the second.

LaddersYes, the orange is in the push-up position. Scoot up the ladder by moving your hand and foot at the same time to gain momentum. Keep that butt down!!

Use routes to develop quick twitch and explosion. Incorporate side-stepping, loops, spins, back pedal, quick cuts and full stops. Use cones to develop routes. You can even incorporate football more by making the skaters catch something at certain points in the routes. This will not only force them to keep their eyes up, but will increase their awareness for the world around them.

Use cones to denote places of action, they are quick and ease to move around into new patterns. Also, linking patterns makes for a harder workout. Set up three patterns in a row and have your people move through them by jogging from the end of one to the beginning of the next.

What is this

Once you get a feeling for how patterns work and how to incorporate motion into them, it’s just a matter of making things up for you to do. You want to do routes a minimum of twice. Up to 5 times for maximum burst work. Stay low. Do everything sharp and precise. When you say stop, STOP DEAD and QUICK. Burst back out of it. Work on making some patterns very tight, and some longer to get a variety of speed adjustments.

Don’t be afraid to add some hand-eye coordination. You can have one person in the middle throwing a ball at people at different points of the routes, or even the next person in line will throw the ball to the person doing the run currently.

Box Drills
Set up your cones in a square. Now pick some different routes to run! Some ideas…
– Shuffle left, sprint up, shuffle right, back pedal
– Spin at each cone, hit each cone twice
– Sprint to each cone, use your feet to ‘circle the top’ of the cone, like you would if you were playing soccer and faking out the opposition

Some things to think about again is keeping low, keeping tight, and being PRECISE! Don’t let your hips swing, keep them square as you move through any box or route drill. Stay low, loading your legs with power, and keep your eyes up, and be quick and tight with every motion. Going onto YouTube and watching football (and futbal) players doing box and footwork drills will really help you understand how to stay in the “box” of yoru own shoulders and keeping your weight centered and strong.

Don’t be shy about checking out my other blogs too. Some that might be of interest to you:

Shifting Perspective (a blog about changing the way we look at training for derby)
Building You as a Better Skater
Eating Healthy Even When You’re Not at Home

And message me at if there’s a topic you would like me to cover in the future. I’m available for roller derby coaching and clinics! Drop me a line to get rates and to set up something with your league.

New Shred Challenge Just Started!!

New Shred Challenge kicks off on Monday, August 5th!! $27 to register!!

– challenge ends monday, 9/12
– 2 winners best before & after
– 2 male & 2 female
– win cash money!! last challenge 4 winners won $225 EACH!!!!! cash pot was at $1,000!!!!!
– private FB Group page for support & inspiration
– $100 bonus challenge to person with most points by end of challenge. Or split if its a tie. Could be anyone! Bonus challenges are meant to inspire & encourage you to be more active
– earn 5 points/person towards the bonus challenge if you get a NEW person to do the challenge with you. They could not have been someone that was already in the past challenge we did! Goal is to go beyond $1000 cash pot!!
– weekly nutrition & fitness topics, recipes, etc.
– MUST be on an herbalife nutrition program. this is an herbalife challenge! what do you have to lose to be on a program for 6wks??? CAUTION – RESULTS may happen!
– anyone in any city/state can participate. We had people from the east coast, canada, hawaii, etc that participated last month!!!

How 2 register:
– Send registration to sheila via to In NOTES section, put your name, phone, email, coach/person that invited you! Then forward/email your receipt to your coach/mentor/person so they can add you to the FB Group page.
– email your front, side view pic in daylight lighting in a picture collage form with the date to

Congrats to our last challenge winners:

FEMALES: $225 each
Kristen Adolfi
Calyn Dannenberg

MALES: $225 each
Matt Whittaker
Eric Pattillo

Bonus Challenge Winners; $50 each
Theresa Miller
Eric Pattillo

Brace Yourself