Get down with the quickness.
When I was a newer skater, one of the things that became the utter bane of my existence (after I had managed competence with my MSRs) was reaction time. The first time I stepped on the track, I realized that I had no idea what was going on. And even when I DID know what was going on, I couldn’t get my body to do anything about it.
ME: (inner dialogue) Here comes the jammer on the outside. They’re on the outside. Here they come.
MY BODY: …
ME: (not having moved at all) There they go.
Learning the game takes time. Figuring out when and how to execute strategy takes time. But like with most things, we can speed up the process by focusing on that skill in our off-skates training.
And, since getting together with friends is more fun than training alone, here are a few quickness drills you can try to deepen the reaction time grooves in your brain. Guaranteed to include shrieking and laughter:
1) Jump, Squat, Push-Up Drill
FOR: total body quickness; reaction time
START POSITION: athletic position
SET = 15 secs ON; 20 to 50 seconds OFF
Your partner sets a timer and calls out jump!, squat!, or push-up! You must perform the exercise indicated as quickly as possible and return to athletic position.
Complete 3 sets
- Choose your rest based on how quickly you can recover from your 10 seconds of work. You should be able to go at 100% every time.
2) Shadow Drill
FOR: reaction time; opponent awareness
EQUIPMENT: stopwatch; 2 cones, 10 yards apart
START POSITION: athletic position; center of cones
SET = 20 secs ON; 40 secs OFF
Stand facing our partner in the center of the cones. One of you will be designated the leader. The other must shadow the leader by mimicking his actions in between the cones. For example, if the leader turns and sprints to a cone in her line, the shadow must sprint to that cone as well.
Complete 3 sets
- A full set is complete when both partners have had a chance to lead.
- This can also be done on-skates. Just be sure to remain in control of each lateral movement!
FOR: sport-specific quickness; opponent awareness
EQUIPMENT: 4 cones set up in a large square 15-20 yards apart
START POSITION: athletic position; center of cones, facing opponent
SET = time to “endzone”
Designate a defensive player and an offensive player. Line up across the square facing each other. The defensive players end is designated as the “endzone”. On a go! signal, the offensive player must evade the defensive player and get into the endzone as quickly as possible. Avoid aggressive physical contact — think more positional blocking.
Complete 2 sets
- A full set is complete when both partners have a had a chance to play defense.
- Want an extra challenge? Attempt a set with the defensive player’s back to the offense. Or throw on your pads and try it on skates — JUST BE CAREFUL!
4) Knee Tag
FOR: sport-specific speed & quickness
EQUIPMENT: 4 cones set up in a square, 2 meters apart
START POSITION: staggered stance; center of square
SET = 20 secs ON; 60 seconds OFF
Face each other inside the square, while standing about 1 meter apart. Designate one of you as “it”. On a go! signal, “it” will attempt to touch their partner’s knee. The partner should dodge as needed to avoid being touched. Each successful touch scores 1 point for “it”. The partner with the most points at the end of a set, wins.
Complete as many sets as you want (although probably not more than 10)
- A full set is complete when both partners have a had a chance to be “it”.
- Also a fun, but intense, one to try on skates.
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