We all know Roller Derby requires speed, strength, and endurance. These attributes are very important to the sport however, none of them matter if you don’t have balance. In the sport of Roller Derby, balance plays a much more important role than it does in many other sports, seeing how you are balancing your entire body on 8 and sometimes only 2 wheels.
Staying on your feet is a very important aspect of skating, don’t ya think? In order for you to be efficient at balancing, your body needs to be…. balanced, balanced from left/right, front/back, and top/bottom. If your body is out of whack and out of alignment your center of gravity will be….well un-centered, placing your weight not over your skates and making balance and function very difficult.
Adding the following exercises to your warm-up will help increase your, strength, balance, power, and ability to skate. Perform them in the order provided.
90/90 Hip Lift
The 90/90 hip lift helps with posture, ROM, and core engagement/strength. This exercise will help your body sense the ground better allowing you to produce more power per leg and maintain your body over you skates…aka balance like a boss
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on a supporting surface or wall and your knees and hips bent at a 90 degree angle
2. Place a 4-6 inch ball between your knees and hold it there with your knees
3. Exhale all the air out of your lungs through your mouth
4. Perform a pelvic tilt by, driving your heels down engaging the hamstrings (muscles behind your thighs). This should lift your tail bone slightly off the floor and place your low back flat on the floor. (Maintain this position for the duration of the exercise)
5. While maintaining this position breath in through your nose (inhale).
6. Next breath all of the air out of your lungs through your mouth (exhale).
7. After all the air is out hold for three seconds and then inhale in through your nose.
8. Repeat for 4-5 breaths (pause for three seconds after each exhalation before inhaling)
Tip: Try to exhale twice as long as you inhale
Rock and Nod
The Rock and nod is great at syncing your body’s connection, resetting your body position, increasing core strength, and stimulating your vestibular system (the system that helps sense where you are in space and allows you to balance, I think this is important in derby). This exercise helps with increasing your ability to get lower in a squat position (allowing you to duck through the competition) and increase your ability to maintain and regain your balance when it is lost, let’s be honest if you derby right, you will eventually be knocked off balance, the key is not falling.
- Start in quadruped position (on your hands and knees).
2. Breathe all of the air out of your lungs, breathe forcefully. You should feel your abs and side engage and tighten. You want to maintain this tightness as you breath during the exercise
3. Hold your head high and pack your shoulders (move them up, then back and down)
4. Push your butt back towards your feet as far as comfortable.
5. Return to quadruped position and repeat
- You can nod at the beginning and end of the motions by slowly moving your head up and down for 10 reps
6. Perform rocking for 1-5 minutes at a time
Tip: This exercise is very “free to play with” it is very much about how you move and feel. Just like derby we know that everyone is different so we expect knee and hip positions to be different between individuals during this exercise. The position is going to be based on what feels right to you. Own it!
The hero squat exercise will help with body alignment, glute activation, hip mobility, and lower body power generation. The hero squat will help increase your acceleration from the start, improve your ability to get and stay low, and increase the length and power of your stride, adding efficiency and speed to your movement.
- Get in upright kneeling position with knees and feet hip width apart, and hands at side. Ears, shoulders,hips, and knees should be aligned
2. Tighten abs, sides, and back to remain in rigid
3. Sit back as far as possible while maintaining an upright torso (shoulders directly over hips). Goal is to eventually sit butt on ground between feet.
4. While maintaining upright torso rise back up to start position of upright kneeling
Repeat for a total of 15-20 reps
½ Kneeling Lift
The ½ kneeling Chop and Lift exercises will increase core strength, power in an unstable position (like on skates), hip disassociation, posture, ROM, and full body function. The chop and lift will help give you more power, balance, and speed will flying around the rink.
- Get in half kneeling position with front knee and hip at 90 degree angles and foot flat and pointed straight ahead. The back knee should be on the ground and straight line should be able to be drawn from ear-to shoulder-to hip-to knee. Back leg should be pointing straight back and foot should be pointing straight into the ground.
2. Hips and shoulders should be facing straight forward
3. Try to get tall/long in the spine while maintaining a flat back.
4. Without rotating your body diagonally bring straight arms up towards the front knee through the full ROM of the shoulders.
5. Repeat for a total 8 times for each side
Tip: Exercise can be performed with a variety of tools (Bands, cable, dumbell, sandbag, Kettlebell, etc.)
The chop exercise is the same set up but you move arms down towards back knee
The bear crawl will increase core strength, your ability to disassociate hips, and synergize energy transfer between lower and upper body. This exercise will help you strengthen and engage the muscles that allow you to take (or give) a hit and keep on going.
- Start on hands and knees with hips at 90 degrees and hands straight down from shoulders.
- Exhale all the air out of your lungs and perform a pelvic tilt
- Rise onto hands and toes lifting knees off the ground while maintaining a pelvic tilt
4. Crawl by simultaneously moving right arm and left leg forward and then repeat with left arm and right leg. Repeat for a total of 16 steps