Over the years it has been suggested a number of times that we host a bootcamp led by our very own London Rockin’ Rollers’s coaches. Finally last year we decided to do it, and if we were going to do it at all, then we had to do it properly.
I’ve been to various bootcamps including Texas Rollergirls, Blood & Thunder, Rollercon, Rocky Mountain and Skate Heaven, and, having taken my favourite things from each bootcamp, I knew exactly how I wanted ours to run.
I loved the way Texas and Rocky Mountain rotated groups of skaters around each training station. This way everyone skates more because there are no long queues, no switching of groups and no one misses out on a session.
I also loved the three day bootcamps that Blood & Thunder held, but practicalities meant we could only have two days, which in hindsight I’m grateful for!
What the rollergirls (and boys) got
Our venue was big enough to have five training stations; two tracks, one on-skates but off-track and two off-skates areas. I wanted to make sure that we covered as many aspects of derby as possible, so that meant making the best of our space and time.
We knew from the start that we wanted Adrian Wordsworth to do a speed skating session for us. He has been coaching us his quad speed skating technique for three years, so this was the perfect session to put on one of the tracks.
Jamming and strategy
Having our star jammer Jack Attack (Team England) coach a jamming session was also an obvious choice, and we couldn’t have a bootcamp without a strategy session. As the current A Team captain I stepped up with fellow coach, and previous B Team captain, Derby Stopout to run it.
The only thing missing on the tracks was a blocking class. For this we approached ex Rockin’ Rollers A Team captain, and Team England skater, The Mighty Mighty Bash.
We paired this with an off-skates blocking class, inspired by Blood & Thunder, a simple concept but with very good results (this class has had the best feedback so far). Being able to transfer the skills of this session to the on-skates with Bash, meant we could take this class one step further.
Off-skates exercise is crucial so we recruited Chris and Ian from ResultsFast, Jack Attack’s ‘gym guys’ – the personal trainers that are responsible for making her muscles the awesomeness that they are – and Jack also did a superb agility class that led fantastically into her jamming workshop the next day.
Taking advantage of the classroom at the venue, Coach James talked about his bench coaching and keeping a positive attitude when training, and I talked through video footage of Saturday night’s game against Dublin, explaining how I review bout footage. I got to show them Jack Attack spinning around a wall of blockers, a super quick defence-offence-defence switch by myself, and the trust in the bench coach by the jammers when he would tell them to do something that was totally out of the ordinary. I hope that some of them were suitably impressed.
For the all important knockout bout I took an idea from Rocky Mountain; we put the skaters into teams of five, including a skater from each skill level. Each team is given a number and the winner stays on. Simple. The winner of this then got to play a Rockin’ Rollers star line up. Lucky them!
Making it unique
We thought about ways we could make our event a little bit special and we came up with adding yoga and the dress-up photo booth. The speed skating race led by Adrian was also an original idea that I’ve not seen anywhere else and we had medals, certificates and trophies as prizes.
So, the sessions were planned, the coaches were prepped, but would anyone want to come? Not having put on an event like this before, we were all a little unsure of how it would go. Ticket sales were steady to start with and I felt quite confident, but when we got confirmation that we had broken even, I knew I could stop worrying and just focus on making this the best bootcamp ever.
The doors open…
We didn’t finish laying the tracks until 11.30pm the night before, and a 7.30am start meant that limited sleep was had (but it’s all in the name of bootcamp right?!).
So it’s the morning, I finish laying the tracks, I grab my new Rockin’ Rollers Bootcamp Tee and gradually they start arriving. One by one they come through and it starts filling up. Lots of new faces, plus some I recognise and it finally sinks in, we’re actually hosting a bootcamp, and these guys are here to learn from us! There were so many of them, I felt so good inside.
We split the skaters by skill level, with approximately 14 skaters in each group, which is a manageable number to coach if you want to give individual attention and ensure everyone has a go at the drills. It made me happy to see that in all of my sessions I could tell at least one person (although I’m sure there were more) had learnt/gained something.
Saturday night was bout night – time to switch off Head Coach mode and move into A Team Captain. With all our bootcampers watching the game, we had added pressure to win it for them. Could we do the moves we’d just taught them? Would our strategies work? Only one way to find out.
My pre-game team talk focused on how all day we’d been coaching the game that we love, and now it was time to play that game, and whatever the outcome we needed to have fun. It was a fantastic game and we prevailed. A big sigh of relief was had.
Towards the end of the bootcamp I saw so many happy, smiling faces leaving and thanking us on the way out, but the key moment of the weekend was right at the end when we had a group photo of the survivors and they all started chanting “LRR, LRR, LRR”.
Unexpected, but so lovely. I thought, “you know what, we could do this again”.