Some of the most basic roller derby skills are also some of the ones that we struggle with the most. (In all honesty, I still have a hard time consistently executing a plow stop at full speed and not landing on my ass.)
The fastest way to master a new skill is to do it. Over and over and over again.
But not all of us have the luxury of being able to spend large amounts of time JUST practicing one skill. I mean, we have lives, right? And spending an entire practice on transitions isn’t going to help your teamwork.
The good news is there are some things that you can do OFF SKATES to help prepare your body for executing skills ON SKATES. Whether it’s strengthening specific muscles or getting your body used to a strange new position, putting in some time off skates can make a big difference when it comes to your basic skills.
Today we’re focusing on the 1-FOOTED PLOW STOP.
In a 1-footed plow stop, you center your weight over one leg and use the other leg to exert force against the ground and bring you to a stop. The power for a plow stop comes from your butt, both it’s position and it’s muscles. The trick to the 1-footed plow stop is that there’s also an element of balance and positioning that has to be controlled, too. Here are 2 quick, easy, off skates exercises (and 1 on-skates drill) that you can add into an existing training program (or use to create a new one) that will help target the muscles and movement specific to a 1-footed plow.
The exercises listed here are also important for getting a good stance and push through your plow.
FRONT LEG LIFT!
This is a little bit different than a regular leg lift in that you want to line up the heel of your top leg IN FRONT OF the toes of your bottom leg before you lift. This allows you to target a little bit different muscle in your glute and mimics a part of the movement pattern for a 1-footed plow.
A lot of our control during plow stops comes from our ability to utilize our glutes effectively and push hard through our wheels. Strengthening your glutes can increase the force you exert on the ground. The focus here is on the *squeeeeze* through your working glute. Put your hand there. Is it firm to the touch? Like it’s contracting hard? Keep your hips stacked and perpendicular to the ground — if you struggle with your hips wanting to lean forward or back on you, put your back against a wall to keep that from happening.
2 sets of 12 reps on each leg
STAR BALANCE REACH!
In this plow stop, the ability to balance steadily on one leg while your other leg is (potentially) moving all over the place is KEY. This is a great exercise to help you start working your balance and finding the right stance for you once your skates are on. You can even add your skates in later when you start to feel solid AF.
Remember that it’s much, much easier to balance when you have your core engaged. That doesn’t mean sucking in your stomach, but expanding your core through breathing in and then bearing down. (That takes a little bit of work too…)
2 sets of 5 reps on each leg (1 rep = all 4 taps in the video)
This skill is INTEGRAL to preparing for a 1-footed plow. Don’t worry too much about how many stomps it takes to bring you to a halt, just start getting comfortable with the body positioning and weight shift.
Practice for 10 minutes, switching working sides
Iron Octopus Fitness has a program specifically designed for new skaters. If you’re a new skater (or new to cross training) and you’re interested in a program that can help build your stability and mobility for our crazy sport, CHECK IT OUT HERE!