While team sports came to a halt during the pandemic a lot of roller derby leagues were figuring out how to use the time off the track to keep the development of their league and teams going. Planning for the time when they are allowed to get back to skating as teams not only leads to pleasant anticipation but is also a smart move. One way to get this started is to analyse your old training or game footage and identify the strengths but also weaknesses of your teams. But what next? With the help of our STEAKS CRW, we have gathered 5 quick tips on how to turn your review notes into an effective training plan.
#01 Put the entire team to work 🤝
While the head coach might be the person to kick off the process, every single team member can provide input to help you get the most out of your review. If you are part of the team’s coaching squad and are feeling alone or maybe even overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to start a conversation with the entire team.
Coach Morson says: “As head coach, I am ultimately responsible for the development of the team. It’s not just my job, however, to review footage and help provide input. I receive excellent input from the team co-captains, and I check-in frequently with our different lines to better understand line dynamics and chemistry.”
GG Hardy backs that approach up: “Picking the games or jams for review can be up to coaches or captains to ensure the team has a focus and goal – but providing solutions or identifying skater roles in different scenarios should have the input from the entire team to have the best outcome.”
#02 Identify habits and focus areas 👩🏽🔬
If you have entire games available for review, you might have endless hours of footage. Your next challenge will be to prioritize what to be on the lookout for when viewing the footage. While you might have a list of strategies defined, whose effectiveness you will want to analyze, it might be worth taking a step back and starting with habits and skating skills as these will ultimately help you improve your capabilities when executing strategies. Time to create your first assignments!
Coach Morson approaches this phase with various tactics and plans: “When we do footage review, it is assigned and I will ask team members to identify strengths and weaknesses with specific time markings for additional follow-up. This often helps identify habits and focus areas when we do our goal setting. During these types of reviews, we try to focus on things we are capable of controlling (i.e. ourselves) and not placing blame on teammates. For example, if a skater states that a linemate is too slow for a certain play, I would counter with, “how can you adapt your playstyle to bring out this skater’s strengths?” Last summer I did a review called “Morson drinks 20 cups of coffee” where I set up hour-long meetings with every charter skater – this could be over a coffee, a walk with my dogs, lunch out, visit at my home, essentially whatever the skater chose, where we could reflect on the season, bond a little, and identify key focus goals, and roadblocks.”
When assigning footage review to your team, the easiest way to do this is to get them to ask smart questions during their reviews. Getting answers to the following questions will help you identify areas that individual athletes, lineups and the entire team can work on. They will give you an understanding of the current abilities of your team, which will then help you define focus areas and achievable goals to plan and train for.
Coach Morson’s tips for Jammer questions
- Were you aware of your scoring pass?
- Were you aware that the opposing jammer is out of the pack?
- Did you look at your bench?
- Did you follow your offence?
- Did you use patience or an aggressive approach? (what worked?)
Lorrage’s tips for Blocker questions
- Look at why you lost the opposing jammer:
- Was it due to skill, e.g. the seam in the wall keeps splitting open, or the outside isn’t being covered?
- Was it due to formation problems, e.g. because your blockers were too separated, or when drawing back the blockers split?
- Was it due to communication problems, e.g. you didn’t seem to have a clear plan?
- Don’t forget your own jammer! Look at how your actions are affecting your jammer: For example, you might think you’re doing a great job holding the opposition jammer 19 feet behind the back, but your jammer might not be able to push the opposing wall out either and needs your help with the offence, or more scrummy play.
Anita Riot’s tips for (aspiring) Pivot questions
Anyone who even considers being the Pivot needs to look out for times when a star pass (or fake) was necessary; and if there was a star pass, analyze how it went. Share your thoughts with your teammates to work on tightening up your teams’ star pass strategies. A few questions to help with this focus:
- Did it work well or did it backfire? What went right/wrong?
- Could it have been more advantageous if it had just been timed better or executed differently?
- What kind of communication is there between the Pivot and Jammer?
- Also, how could other teams’ star passes have been stifled or made ineffective?
#03 Define a review goal when reviewing gameplay and strategies 🎯
While the review of habits and individual roles will likely give you an entire list that you can sink your training session planning teeth into, you will still want to review your overall gameplay, team energy as well as the predefined strategies that you took into the game. Depending on the size of your playbook, this can quickly turn into a complicated task. You will need to define a goal, decide on what you will be looking at. Asking the following types of questions will help you understand what leads to the success or failure of your plans. You’ll be able to pinpoint what strategy and further skills you need to work on.
Anita’s general tips that help you study a game jam-by-jam:
Anita Riot advises you to make sure you study with purpose and some way to record all your notes, thoughts, and questions.
- Have stats for the game handy while watching.
- Watch for 10-15 minutes straight. Then start writing down any patterns you see.
- Note how the action plays out in the 4-0 jams, the jams where one team gets multiple scoring passes, and the 0-0 scoring jams.
- Give some focus to the times when there might be a momentum shift for one team and try to determine how it happened. For example: During which jam was X team able to end their opponents’ scoring streak? Did a team start to find more success after they switched up their strategy? Or perhaps there was a 12-point jam that got the winning team amped up and the other team was unable to respond with a similar jam or catch back up the rest of the game.
- Rewatch certain jams or plays you find interesting multiple times and use the video player settings to slow it down to half-speed, so you can really break down strategies in action.
Lorrage’s example questions for scoring passes:
Lorrage advises:” Break the game down so you aren’t looking at everything at once.” The best way to do this is to analyse a certain play, for example, scoring passes and define a list of smart questions you want to answer, before sitting down and watching the footage.
- Did we get lead? yes/no
- Did we/they hit the jammer out?
- Was the spring successful?
- Was the scoring pass catch successful (Were we together? Where did we catch? How many caught?)
- Did we/they do offence as they/we caught?
- What is the time stamp? Give big ticks for the ones you want to show your team as good examples. And find trends and time stamps for consistent bad habits so you can train yourself out of them
#04 Create a kick-ass training plan 🚀
At this point you will hopefully have a helpful list of basic skills you can improve on, behavioural team patterns that lead to e.g. huge scoring passes against you and kinks in your strategies. Now it is time to turn your review into an actionable plan. Time to put your thinking caps on & get creative! Come up with ideas and solutions on what exactly the team could have done differently to turn those failures into successes! GG Hardy explains:” It can be something as simple as communication, or something as complex as coordinated/simultaneous offence and bridging. Figure out drills for practice that build-up to this scenario and then work on the scenario and the different roles each skater needs to play for it to be successful.”
#05 Repeat the process 🎠
The final questions needing answers are:
🕰 HOW OFTEN should your team repeat this entire process
📅 WHEN to plan in footage reviews.
The answers to these questions can vary, as they will depend on what you will be using your reviews for. If you are in the process of building up a team or getting ready for your first game or season, you can film your training and use footage review as a hub for what skills to train for. If this is the case, you can review footage as often as needed, aka whenever you are looking for answers concerning the planning of new and fun training sessions. This is also a good way to structure your off-season training plan. Check out your footage of the last season and work on those bad habits so you can return stronger in the new season.
If your team is playing competitively and in an active season Anita Riot has answers of how often and when to review your footage: “Optimally, you would study footage before and after every game. I would say no less than 6 weeks before playing your opponent. If possible, study at least two of their most recent games available. If there are no reliable recordings of your upcoming adversary, try studying a higher-ranked team with a strategy you think could work against your opponent. Also before the game — and especially if there is no reliable footage of your opponent available — study footage of your own team’s most recent games, scrimmages, and/or practices. Adjust your training accordingly to prepare in the weeks leading up to the game. After playing your opponent, study that game. (If there is no live stream or plan to record the event, your team leadership can ask permission to set up your own camera so you will have footage). I would say that at minimum, study each game your team plays at least once! You can have an amazing memory and great game-time adjustments, but the camera usually reveals things you may have missed.“
We hope you found these tips helpful! If you did and you know a coach or a league struggling with footage review or training structure, share the love and send them this way. We might as well use this time we have off the track to learn from each other so we are ready to go – fiercer as ever – as soon as we can get back to our sport. Stay healthy! See you back on the track soon!