Focus: Understanding pack definition, giving refs practice at making pack definition calls (in the actual drill bit at the end).
Often trying to explain pack definition to skaters, both freshmeat and min skills passed skaters can be tricky so sometimes things need to be slowed right down to check that everyone understands. The drill is less of a physical drill but more of a demonstration and a chance for skaters to ask questions...
The pack is the largest group of mixed blockers (i.e. blockers from both teams) on the track skating within 10ft of one another.
Get 8 people on track and give 4 of them bibs of one colour and the other 4 bibs of another colour.
Mix them together and explain that this is the pack and this is because there is a group of blockers from different teams within 10ft of each other.
Separate the two groups of skaters by colours, moving the two groups 20ft away from each other. Explain that this is a no pack, because there is no group of mixed blockers skating within 10ft of each other.
Move one person into the other group. Explain there is now a pack as there is a group of mixed blockers skating within 10ft of each other.
HERE it is probably good to check everyone understands – I find it better to have advanced skaters on track and newer skaters (or those who are less clear on pack definition watching off track – as long as they actually pay attention).
Create two equal groups e.g. 2 black, 2 white skating 20 ft from 2 black, 2 white, explain that this is also a no pack, because there is no ‘bigger group’.
Pull some skaters off track or ask them to ‘down’ themselves, then explain that skaters who are not in bounds, or have fallen over cannot be considered part of the pack as they are not in play.
When a no pack situation occurs, a referee will shout ‘No pack!’, and everybody should respond straightaway. Make sure everyone understands that it is EVERYONE’s responsibility to reform that pack.
It is also advisable to go through penalties that may occur as a result of pack definition issues...
- "Destruction of the pack" You do something which causes there to be a no pack situation. (4 blacks and 1 white in the front, and 3 whites in the back, 20ft behind the front group. The white blocker in the front group turns around to skate to the other white blockers).
- "Failure to reform" The pack is destroyed, and no skater makes an attempt to reform the pack (Demostrate a ‘no pack’ call being made where no skater does anything to fix it).
THE ACTUAL DRILL - Send people away in groups of 8, with a spread of advanced skaters across the groups. Ask the advanced skaters to order instructions i.e. 78 take a knee or 1945 skate off track, then tell the other skates in that group to reform the pack. Referees can be used to define the pack, call 'no pack' and call out penalties where relevant.