Thursday, August 28, 2014

How to change your Faster tires

Ever wondered what's so good about a wheel being multi-component? Ever wondered how to change out your Faster tires? Well, everything you need to know is right here in this video. Replacement tires are available from any Faster dealer at a fraction of the cost of a whole new set of wheels. The new hub tool is now also available from any Faster dealer for only $15.

Aaand to make it even easier, we've also put together this cheat sheet below for your reference. Watch the video, read the cheat sheet, and after that, the only question that remains is "which tires should I use today to add to my already mega awesomeness on the track?"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

That's Tight!

Faster has spent a good chunk of the last two weeks working on tight stopping and direction control. In anticipation for the launch of our new 59mm wheels, we have been putting the new 59's... and our brains through the paces. We have found a few key ways to use the beveled front and overall shorter wheel to execute tighter direction changes, and sharper stops.

 Ewan from Team Canada illuminated the need to 'close the door' on the outside lines. She showed the Team Canada skaters a great way to transition from ineffectively coming up to the line backward, to tightly setting on the line. I think we've all had the moment while trying to transition out of a brace or partner block, just to feel the jammer escape behind our back on the line. Mastering the door close will help you get all the way to the line, while being ready for contact when you get there.

The second major task was to get real familiar with tighter stops. Truly there is no better way than falling on your face a million times to work out backward hockey stops... especially set to French tunes. The real key to this backward hockey stop is stacking your feet one in front of the other while edging backward, and remember it's your outside foot that goes behind.

We had a bit of a revelation in applying an oscillate technique to move between plow stops and duck runs, providing tighter speed control. This comes in handy to keep your hips level with your friends, and fellow blockers. The death knock of several blocking formations is when one person's hips are pushed ahead (or behind) of the others. Figuring out a way to quickly gain and subtract speed to keep all players on the same plane will enhance the structural integrity of your walls and formations.

While we had a reason to use the new Faster 59's, you certainly can knock these drills and ideas out on whatever setup you ride... just keep it tight.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hitting Drill

Pull up some track and smash your friends this weekend.
Today's video covers initiating via hip-checks and can openers - from both the inside and outside lines.

Practicing these skill sets at varied speeds will help build familiarity with legal initiation and target zones, as well as direction of game play.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Let's take a look at the clever one foot absorption trick that we picked up from Blizzard of Bristol Roller Derby and Team Finland. Blizz is a fly skater with devastating edging, as well as pinpoint contact and hitting skills.

From high level game play perspective, jammers being able to effectively use all four lanes of the track is the new black. The days of pushing only up the center may be numbered. However, being knocked out of bounds is still a sad - sad day. Learning to stabilize while edging, taking contact, and in transitions can help you to utilize a larger swath of the track.

Blockers can work not only to counter jammer on the edges, but can also use quick absorption and edging techniques to maintain or strengthen both defensive and offensive positioning.

"When you put all your weight into your outside edge and funnel the opposing blocker's strength into it, you get a phenomenal amount of grip you might not otherwise have when standing on all eight wheels. This move is a great way to muscle around blockers on the inside or outside lines; you can use the traction of your edges and the inherent curve of the track to send your body around an attacking blocker. You can also use your lifted leg to steer, for better control." -Artoo Detoonate | Roller Derby Junkies

Artoo has a great GIF showing absorption in mid crossover, which allowed the very talented Mace to absorb and ultimately edge out of contact from an opposing blocker.

Below is a video example of Artoo and I practicing absorption at the North East Derby Convention. The video illustrates the difficulty in taking contact while centered over both of your skates. With a small adjustment of shifting your weight onto your outside edge (lifting your inside foot) you can get an immediate improvement of absorbing and translating the force of your opponent into your own benefit.

If you have absorption videos, ideas, or strategies we would love to hear them!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Happy end of the week! This weekend we recommend that you grab a couple of friends and work on the nuances between vertical and later catching.

Vertical catching incorporates a speed change from matching the pace of the jammer - to dramatically slowing down once contact has been made.

Laterally catch opponents and pass them to your teammates - so everyone can share in the fun.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Stop and Slide

Welcome to Stop and Slide!

This post will discuss traveling on the game play surface by rolling, and sliding. Sliding can be thought of as moving without your wheels rotating, or in another way as extending your stop. There are a few ways to ease slide in and out of stopping, and rolling.
As you become a more dynamic skater you discover more stops, and subtleties of positioning in stops. As this blog progresses we will cover stopping itself more in depth. For now, let's explore the main way wheels travel on the floor, which is to say by rolling.

Rolling is a combination of rotational and translational motion. 

Center of mass moves in a translational motion
ie. Center mass of the circle moves in parallel with the surface.

The rest of the body is rotating around the center of mass.
ie. The cirlce rotates around its center.

Wheels can also travel via slide! There are many instances where pivoting your skates to allow for roll isn't the most efficient action. Stepping and sliding are great tools to travel around the pack, especially while maintaining a forward or backward facing position.

A slide is a (translational) move, without rotating.

Grab a partner and begin feeling out the differences between rolling, stopping, stepping, and sliding. Once you get comfortable easing between the different modes of travel you can use slide to reposition in front of blockers, and stepping to create force on impact.

Dynamic transitions between stop and slide also help with direction changes. In game play, being able to laterally change directions, while staying positioned forward is a real advantage. 

I'm working a lot on staying forward while maintaining contact, and in anticipation for impact.
On 10' lines you can practice lateral direction changes with hockey stop crossovers. 

You can incorporate slide into your practice this week by warming up with hockey stop crossovers, and then by working with a partner to ease into sliding, stopping, stepping, and rolling. There are a world of possibilities for your team to use slide in traveling on the game-play surface, positioning, and blocking. If you come up with some great ones, please share with us!

Next week we will cover maintaining body contact while blocking, as we continue the quest for footwork to help us maintain our strength in positioning. 

Note: If you're interested in nerding out  harder - I'm learning 3D browser modeling, and my first scene is letting the user control a box to illustrate hockey stops and c-cuts. 
You can access the model by clicking here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekend Footwork!

Grab a couple of minutes at practice this weekend to work on your foot and line work.

The video above shows two variations, one with a hockey stop and one with a crossover step. You can do them both backwards and forwards.

The video above shows c-cuts, which are great for driving power in fluid movements.
If you're new to c-cuts, begin rolling before beginning your cuts.