The Power of Goofy Games

Photo courtesy Pamela Wade Photography.

Every time I coach a fresh meat session, I love to cap off with a goofy game. After two hours of sweat, new skills, and structured drills, everyone deserves some light-hearted fun. Sore muscles and lingering worries melt away. The night ends on a high note, punctuated by shrieks and hysterical giggles. 

Games are also incredibly powerful training tools, particularly in fresh meat. They solidify new skills, reduce inhibitions, and put skaters in a mindset where they simply do rather than try. I’ve seen a game of tag transform a group of shy wallflowers into fleet-footed mountain goats: leaping, juking, laughing, and - wow, was that a hockey stop?!

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Hot Dog Tag

Rules: One or two people are “it”. The rest of the group works as a team to stay free. When tagged, a player must lie down on the floor as a “hot dog”. To be freed, two team mates must lie alongside the hot dog as “buns”. All players skaters can now stand up and keep skating. The game ends when all players are stuck on the ground, or when time runs out.

This fun tag variation is useful in helping new skaters grow accustomed to the floor. Plus, getting up and down over and over works wonders in terms of endurance.

Source: A common elementary school game. I first saw it applied to derby at All Derby Drills.

The Chocolate Game

Rules: Each skater is given a few individually-wrapped chocolates or pieces of candy on a paper plate. The skater holds these out in front of his/herself. The chocolates must be kept in view, in front of each player at all times (no obscuring them with a hand, or putting them in pockets, or waving the plate around, or raising it up to the ceiling). On the whistle, the game starts. Players skate around and attempt to steal chocolates from each other. Fallen chocolates may be picked up by anyone and added to their own plate. The winner is whoever collects the most chocolates after a set length of time.

This is a tasty way to celebrate birthdays or the end of fresh meat. Recommended for intermediate skaters, due to tripping hazards and a tendency for the game to get very competitive! Use paper plates; plastic plates can break and form sharp edges.

Source: Originally created by Tim Wheals of Eastbourne Skate School.

 

Playing a game transforms your internal struggles into external objectives. Instead of being caught up in the technical details of a particular skill, you’re concentrating on an overarching goal. You do a four-point fall because your friend is languishing on the floor and you need to be her bun, not because your coach is asking you to four-point fall. You juke because your precious chocolate hoard is under threat, not because the coach is asking you to juke. Your body moves naturally and responds instinctively. 

Instead of hesitating, you throw yourself forward. Instead of reaching for the wall, you skilfully slow yourself down. Because for the next three minutes, you are not a bewildered fresh meat skater. You are a hot dog. A hot dog that can hockey stop.

About The Author

Bio:

Call me Burg! I skate with the lovely Otautahi Rollers in Christchurch, New Zealand. I enjoy coaching fresh meat, painting pictures, growing weird vegetables, and studying science.

 

Profile photo credit: Kyan Krumdieck


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