What I Learned From: The Smacktivist

This week’s post is late for a great reason- TCRD hosted a skills clinic this weekend featuring The Smacktivist, of the Ohio Rollergirls, and I had to wait until I had filled my brain full of knowledge so that I could share some of it with you.

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The Smacktivist was named WFTDA’s 2012 North Central Regional MVP in their rookie year and has been impressing derby audiences ever since.  They are an unstoppable force on the track, routinely racking up more than 100 points per game, and clinching all sorts of game MVP awards. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to spectate this workshop and took furious notes.

Here are some selected highlights:

When You’re Jamming, Keep It Low – The lower you get, the better off you are. You can always get lower, in fact, you’re never quite as low as you think you are.  As a jammer, getting low will give you leverage to explode into backwards blockers. As a blocker, it will give you power and control in your blocks.  Keep your feet under you, your stride even, and your chest up.  Smacktivist ran skaters through their paces, experimenting with the most effective way for them to navigate a pack.  There were countless methods to try, but the consistent factor in the successful ones?  Coming in low.

Keep Up With Your Cross Training – The way that Mack skates is a testament to the benefits of a solid strength program. While we didn’t get too deep into the weight training side of things, we definitely were given ample tools when it comes to offskates balance, agility, and stride mechanics.  At the clinic, Mack led a full hour of offskates training. There were so many useful drills, all focusing on the basics on body positioning and weight transfer. Skaters who are comfortable with the way their body moves off skates are far more comfortable with their stride once they’ve strapped on their wheels.    Also, warm muscles are happy muscles, so never forget your off skates regimen!

And more than anything else:

Nail The Basics – The Smacktivist had a strong, strong focus on the breakdown of power skating strides throughout the clinic. They weren’t afraid to spend the time to make sure that each participant was grasping the idea. Too often at practice, we move quickly from one drill to the next, trying to keep skaters “interested”.  Mack drilled the basics over and over again, and I could see improvement in the group with each minute spent figuring it out. Watching skaters grow so quickly, just by being given time to work the skill out was inspiring. If I take anything away from this weekend, it’s the need to take time to make your basics beautiful.  Take the time, practice your skills, train your muscle memory.

The Smacktivist is an awesome coach, and I think they had a profound impact on the skaters they taught this weekend. Thanks for sharing with us, Mack!

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One Comment

  1. I agree whole-heartedly with every word you wrote but super duper agree with “nail the basics”. I so often feel like I need to move quickly from one drill to the next, in order to keep skaters engaged. I’m terrified people will get bored with my drills but instead of worrying what other people will think of my practice, I need to concentrate on giving people time to master the fundamentals.

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