Seething with frustration, I’ve walked away from many conversations that have this sentiment (if not this exact statement) embedded in it:
I have to keep training hard because Playoffs are just around the corner.
First things first, I’m jealous as hell. Let’s just get that out of the way.
But the largest part of my seething frustration comes from the fact that the above belief isn’t true. And hammering yourself even harder with your biggest games on the line isn’t going to make you a better player.
If the key to good real estate is location, location, location, then the key to a good training plan is
Periodization, periodization, periodization.
Think back to the last time you Insta-stalked an incredible roller derby athlete and they were setting an astonishing PR that made you want to run out and do the same.
Loren Mutch executing a gorgeous back squat perhaps.
Or Laci Knight showing a clean & jerk who’s boss.
IT’S BEEN AWHILE.
That doesn’t mean that no one is lifting heavy weight out there. Or that no one is getting stellar PRs this late in the season.
What it does mean is that skaters are turning their training focus toward what will specifically enable them to kill on the track:
- Maintenance of all the muscle mass, strength, etc. they’ve gained this season.
- Rest and recovery to enter playoffs ready to roll.
- Game specific training drills and workouts.
- Fun. This game is supposed to be fun. Remember?
ACTUAL PLAYOFF PREP.
A friend of mine that recently transferred to the All-Star Program of a top 10 WFTDA team likes to bend my ear about what they are doing at practice. And, because I love coaching theory and strategy, I’m eager to listen.
Without giving away any secrets from that particular team, she has confirmed something that I always hoped was true.
Most teams with a trip to playoffs are trying to automate their play. Oiling their finely tuned machinery so that nothing breaks down come game time.
PRACTICE IS PARAMOUNT during this time.
If there’s less than a month left until your season is on the line, you likely can’t build enough additional strength or stamina or speed to make a huge difference in your current skill level.
What you can do is drill down into the minutia and tighten everything up.
Last year, everyone lost their minds over Stef Mainey’s heavy bag blocking. #neverforget
This drill is NOT about strength, speed, stamina, or power. It’s about getting all of the little pieces of her skating to flow together so she’s ready for what playoffs can throw at her.
Practice something until it becomes second nature.
She can probably do this in her sleep. AS IT SHOULD BE.
This year has brought a flurry of additional, off-skates training ideas from skaters that are trying to do the same thing:
Hone their skills to a razor sharp edge so they can turn their brains off and let their feet take over.
Both Miracle Whips and Artoo Detoonate have gone the heavy bag route again to practice precision hits and moving through walls with power and confidence.
One week until Seattle @wftda Playoffs. Can’t build any more muscle at this point. Can’t get any more endurant or explosive. All I can do is fine tune what is already built. Visualize. Engage. Hit. Avoid. Load. Hit again. Repeat!! #oneweek #roadtoplayoffs #wftdaplayoffs #contactsport #rollerderby #hitdontquit
Or this gem of a training piece that mimics the dynamics of weight transfer, single leg strength, and fun that had Midge Wilhelm throwing down against Miracle Whips again.
Fun jump rope single leg free style for balance and cardio! The end of the season is nearing for many. Take a look at yourself. You worked hard to get fit and strong. Look at the results of all these weeks of skating! 💯💯💯💯 Enjoy being in motion, let your body show you what it can do for you!! . 💪☺️✌️️
Get out your jump ropes, ya’ll.
WHAT IF YOU’RE NOT WHIPS OR ARTOO OR MIDGE?
Even if you personally aren’t headed to a huge tournament, the training adjustments across the season still apply.
If it’s the end of your season, have fun. Drill down. Stick your skills. Get back to basics.
And appreciate all the hard work you’ve done to get here. Whether you’re headed to Playoffs or not.
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