So You Want To Learn How To: 2-FOOTED PLOW STOP

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 2-FOOTED PLOW STOP.

In a 2-footed plow stop, both of your feet are exerting {mostly} equal force against the ground and bringing you to a stop. The power for a plow stop comes from your butt, both it’s position and it’s muscles. Here are 4 quick, easy, off skates exercises 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 2-footed plow.


Everyone tells you to do them because they work. 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


This exercise mimics the rotation you have to get out of your leg to execute a good plow stop. You know, one where your feet (and wheels!) are actually perpendicular to the direction you’re moving instead of still pointed in the direction your moving.

These work slightly different muscles than a traditional clamshell and really help to build up stability in your hip for your plows.

The key here is to keep your upper thigh in the same position the whole time. Your knee will want to drift downward as your rotate your foot toward the ceiling and you have to fight that. Initially your movement here, might be very small, just keep working at it!

2 sets of 12 reps on each leg


More glute work, but this time it’s dynamic. I also love this exercise because it forces your to shift your weight from one foot to the other under resistance — a hugely important skill for roller skating. Using the band to also make sure that your knees stay tracking over the middle to outside of your foot instead of caving in. That cave-in will weaken your plow stop as your knees absorb some of that force.

Mimic your derby stance as closely as possible as you do this exercise. For obvious reasons.

2 sets of 12 steps in each direction


I just love the shit out of these for tons of reasons. Really almost any skill your struggling with can benefit from some good ol’ fashioned band squats.

The focus here is on your knees again. Keeping everything appropriately aligned so that the majority of the force your produce from your {STRONG} glutes get transferred into your skates and not absorbed by other things — like lazy knees. The pressure of the band on the outside of your thighs is destined to remind you to press out so that your knees are caving in. This also helps you keep your weight distributed evenly over your feet, which is important for solid plow stops, too.

2 sets of 12 reps

BONUS: On Skates Things To Try

A plow stop is an especially important skill to learn on skates because you have to get used to the feeling of your wheels sliding under you. (Yes, you WANT that slide. You just have to be in control of it.) So here are 2 on skates exercises that you can do with {very} minimal space at home or for warm-up with practices. One is designed to make you immediately successful on the track, even if your plow stop needs some work, and the second is designed to build your plow stop prowess.


For skaters that aren’t comfortable with plows or can’t quite get that slide they need, this is a good stop-gap. (See what I did there?) A stomp stop can make you immediately successful at throwing on the breaks quickly until you can get your plow stop working.

This skill is also INTEGRAL to preparing for a 1-footed plow — which, I’m arguing right now, is the more important plow stopping skill. 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


Put down an object and use it as a reference point. This is the place that you want to cut your feet. When I first learned plowing, someone told me to imagine drawing a heart with my toes. That was crap advice that didn’t work for me, but it might work for you. I’ve recently been telling people to push their feet out diagonally leading with their heels because that’s what they’ll have to do to master a 1-footed plow.

The focus here, again, is getting comfortable. Figure out what works for you and play around with it. Dig hard through your heels and try to get a good clatter, chatter, or stutter against the floor. (Remember, you WANT that slide.) If this feels awkward, try playing with your foot placement. You want your feet under you and ready to react, but not so close that your knees get locked up. I really like a slightly wider than shoulder width stance.

Now go, be free, master your plows.

Want more?

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!


About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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