All posts by Joshua "Conan" Pfenning

Video: Defensive Transitions with Laci Knight

Laci Knight of Knight Strong and Angel City Derby Girls demonstrates how to transition from backwards blocking to forwards blocking while holding the opponent jammer. The defensive hold and turn technique is essential for strong defensive gameplay. Her breakdown is easy to understand and very beneficial to anyone looking to improve defense.

In this video, Laci is skating in prototypes of the new Halo 95A.

Halo 95A Blue Angle 210 x 160

Halo 95A

 

Video: Three Transitions

Cris Dobbins demonstrates 3 different line transitions. Each is useful for different game scenarios.

First, a basic line transition:

Next, a parallel line transition:

Last, a fun 180 jump transition:

Cris Dobbins demonstrates 3 different line transitions. Each is useful for different game scenarios. All are fun and beneficial to practice.
The day we shot this video, the concrete floor was cold! Cris skated the Presto 59 88A and had plenty of grip and control.

Presto 59 88A 700 x 620

Presto 59 88A

Labs Q&A: Christy Demons

Christy Demons Interview3

Recently, I caught up with VRDL All Star Jammer Christy Demons. She talks about playoffs, the tough loss to Gotham, and how she keeps her penalties down.

 Read time: 4 minutes

Conan: Congratulations on finishing third place at WFTDA Champs this year. How are you feeling about the tournament?

Christy: So proud of my team! Each individual player personally stepped up, and the whole team played at a new level. Our training paid off. At a team goal setting meeting at the start of the year, we set one of our long-term goals as ‘win a medal at Champs’, so we were stoked to reach that goal.

The Gotham loss must have been difficult.

We knew that we would be likely to come up against Gotham so we had focussed a lot of our preparation on that game. It was hard losing that game after being in the lead for so long and feeling like the win was totally within our grasp. Personally, I felt really happy afterwards because it was such a challenging and exciting game. But there were a mix of emotions in the team. We went out for a team bonding dinner after, and I don’t think anyone got too much sleep that night.

How were you able to rally and defeat a very tough London team the following day?

It was a little hard for the team to refocus the next day, but I think it helped us to just go through our pre-game rituals, and trust what we had practiced. For me going through all those familiar steps gets me really focussed and ready for games.

Going back to Divisionals, you were awarded the Tournament MVP in Tucson. What was that experience like?

It was a huge honour to be acknowledged like that – exciting and overwhelming and I couldn’t really believe it. It means a lot to me and it is an experience I won’t forget.

You played a LOT of jams the Tucson Divisional because Victoria only traveled 12 players. How do you prepare for something like that?

Our training sessions are really intense. We do a lot of scrimmage A vs A, so at times we are jamming every second jam. Prior to this scrimmage we have a two hour Allstars training session. I am used to skating in hard situations while tired. In the leadup to playoffs, we had sessions 4-6 times a week. On Sundays we had a jammer training session in the mornings, then Allstars training in the afternoons, to simulate tournament play. Basically I skate as much as I can, as hard as I can, trying to push myself. I want to work on improving my endurance more in 2016.

You only had 1 penalty for the entire Tucson Divisional. What is your secret? How do you keep penalties down?

I was really pleased with that! It’s important to me to be a clean jammer. I try to keep calm, trust my defence and offense, and not do anything too risky. It’s easy to trust my blockers when they are so good!

We practice specific drills for avoiding penalties. We practice spins while actively getting our forearms out of the way. Sometimes our goal for the session is simply to not use forearms. We yell friendly reminders at each other. We try to have referees at as many of our sessions as possible, and encourage feedback from all skaters to tell us if we do something that looks like or feels like it could have been a penalty.

I have also always loved the rules. I read them a lot and think about them a lot and ask questions and love to talk about them. This helps keep the rules in the forefront of my mind.

What’s next for you? Do you take an off season?

Presto 59 93A Angle 210 x 160

Presto 59 93A

We officially have a six week break from skating, but there are still a few optional sessions each week which I will attend so I can keep working on some skills, and try out some new things I saw at Champs. It’s summer in Australia so I’m going skating outdoors or ramp skating after work and on weekends. It’s so fun to skate in the open air outdoors and jump off things. I would miss skating too much if I took a total break from it.

Last, a gear question. Talk about your wheels:

I used Radar Prestos (93s) in all of the games. They were perfect on both the playoffs and champs floors, and gave me the right amounts of grip and slide. It made it easy to go really fast and also to stop confidently when I needed to. I love these wheels a lot.

 

 

 

Video: One Foot Plow Stop

Laci Knight breaks down the one foot plow stop. This is a foundational tool which is essential to the modern game.

Presto 59 95A 700 x 620

Presto 59 95A

Presto 59 97A 700 x 620

Presto 59 97A

Laci skates a combination of the Presto 59 95A and Presto 59 97A.

Radar Blog: 5 Things that are Killing Your Footwork

5 Things that are killing your footwork

1- Executing Movements with your Upper body*

It is called footwork, but many people try to execute movements entirely with their upper body. To get quick, precise, and controlled movements, you can initiate movements with shoulders and arms, but must finish those movements with your lower body, hips, legs, and feet.

 

2- Not picking up your feet

To improve the sharpness of your footwork, you have to get your feet off the ground. Many players try to glide into stops, transitions, or other sharp movements and it decreases precision, slowing the footwork. Pick up your feet!

 

3- Focusing too much on Toe Stops

Using Toe Stops is a quick way to gain balance and control. Many beginning players find their first blocking success thanks to their trusty, stable toe stops. But if you are looking to improve your quickness, especially in small spaces, you have to get off of your toe stops and down onto your wheels, where your edges can make magic.

 

4- Working too much on Speed

Beginning Derby skaters obsess over their speed. Of course you have to knock off that 27 in 5 before you can get into the fun stuff, but don’t neglect working on your balance at slow speed. Learning to transition comfortably will serve you for as long as you play derby.

 

5- Not taking off skates warm up seriously

Skaters who bluff their way through the off skates warm ups or skip it entirely will fall behind in improving their footwork. A good, dynamic off skates warm up increases blood flow to the muscles, promoting the energy releasing reactions needed for great footwork.

 

*Edited wording to reflect some very thoughtful feedback provided by the skating community.

Conan

Joshua “Conan” Pfenning

Radar Wheels Brand Manager

Head Coach – Angel City Derby Girls

Assistant Coach – Team USA Women’s Roller Derby

 

 

Video: 180 Transitions

Ghetto breaks down the 180 transition.

Blog Post: Little Things that are Slowing Your Improvement

5 Little things that are slowing down your improvement

 

#1 – Talking negatively to yourself

We all have an internal dialog with ourselves. One of the most damaging little things a player can do to herself as she is trying to improve is to frame that dialog in negative. Always use positive talk instead. For example, telling yourself “stop dragging your toe” or “don’t drag your toe” is not as effective as reminding yourself “stay on your wheels” or “use your edges to stop”. This applies to every technique or skill you are trying to improve. Using positive talk will help your improvement, and your outlook!

 

#2 – Not Eating soon enough after practice

Eating a good meal 3-6 hours before practices is something most players are already doing; however, eating quickly after practice is just as important. After practice, your body is depleted of energy, and needs to be refueled. Eating a sensible snack or small meal immediately after practice is a little thing that will keep you energized and will also help you from binging later. If you don’t eat soon after practice, your body can feel like crap the entire next day.

 

#3 – Working with the same partner

Most training sessions involve partner drills, and skaters always seem to pair up with the same people. Mix it up! Working with a new partner can change the drill entirely. It forces you to adjust to a different style and tempo. Also, it can refresh your competitive spirit. Most importantly, it will force you to be a bit more engaged, which is ideal for improving.

 

#4 – Watching too many things in footage review

Everyone assumes that watching footage will help you improve, but if you aren’t focusing on specific things, it can be a waste of time. Watch for specific little things with concentration and intent. If you are a jammer, watch the jammers feet. Look for patterns. Ever wonder why some jammers get driven out of bounds easily and others seem impossible to dive out? The answers are there if you watch for them.

 

#5 – Trying to learn everything at once

I guess this could be a big thing, but it is so common! The essence of improvement is that it happens piece by piece. Occasionally, skaters will have Aha! moments where they seem to suddenly have a new skill. Most often, this is the result of extended amounts of time making little improvements that lead to a tipping point. Chip away at the skills you want to improve. Don’t try to do everything at once, and be kind to yourself along the way.

Conan

 

Joshua “Conan” Pfenning

Radar Wheels Brand Manager

Head Coach – Angel City Derby Girls

Assistant Coach – Team USA Women’s Roller Derby

 

 

Video: Hockey Stop

Ghetto shows you how to properly execute a hockey stop.

Diamond Natural 700 x 620

Ghetto Skates the Radar Diamond

Video: Powerslide


Rachel shows you how to properly execute a Powerslide.

Rachel Skates the Presto Wide

Video: Cone Drill #1

Improve your footwork with this series of great drills from Radar Labs skater Ghetto Fabulez.

As with all of Ghetto’s footwork drills, this is excellent for beginners and advanced skaters alike.

Diamond Natural 700 x 620

Ghetto Skates the Radar Diamond 94A