So You Want To Learn How To: CROSSOVER

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 CROSSOVERS.

Crossovers have been done. So I’m probably not telling you anything new here. And, in all honesty, I kind of feel like being able to do a crossover isn’t that big of deal. (Except, obviously, the 27-in-5 is kind of hard to get without one. But I also kind of don’t care about that test either.) The value of being able to do a crossover at all is learning how to exist on one foot or the other, not both. Derby is a game that should be played on one foot at a time and THAT is heavily dependent on how well you can transfer your weight from one foot to the other. The crossover is the first big test of that ability.


A big part of being able to crossover (and transfer your weight effectively) is building strength and power in each leg individually. That’s where these come in. The jumping is a progression, so if you aren’t there yet take a big, wide step, transfer your weight to one leg, do a single leg squat –as low as you can — and then switch sides. Your aiming for maximum distance and height each jump while remaining under control.

2 sets of 5 reps per leg (try  building your own stability & core circuit)


This is another exercise for building strength in each leg individually and gaining control over the actual “step over” of your leg. Weight transfer during skating is going to be primarily moving from one awkward position to the next, so learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

The more you can push down through that step, the more power you will gain from that foot. And the faster you can go. Adjust the height of your box and your starting distance from it until you feel CHALLENGED but also CONTROLLED.

2 sets of 5 reps per leg (try  building your own stability & core circuit)


Practicing strength moves is great! But crossovers need to happen repeatedly for them to be efficient and effective. Which means you have to practice doing them over and over. This exercise is more about getting you comfortable staying crunched down over your legs while they do crazy powerful things. (You can also do it in skates, if you’re into special torture.) I’m not sure what was going on with my arms here, but just let them move like they would while you’re skating.

5 yards in each direction


Even skaters that have been skating for a while struggle to push equally with both feet as they crossover. Try this exercise to break down the parts of the crossover to build strength in each. Step over with your leading foot, step back and under with your following foot until it’s extended as far as it can go, then reverse the motion. As I’m sure you can tell by my face, it takes some concentration.

5 reps on each leg as part of warm-up


Set yourself up close enough to something that you can press against it with the inside of your pusher foot. The idea here is to get into your full crossover position and then **PUSH** with the back foot. It will feel a little strange and like maybe you aren’t doing anything, but it will give you the power to pop through your cross under just when you need it.

The ability to hold your position solidly through one leg (the front leg) while using your other leg to execute a skill is so important for higher level derby skills like hockey stops, one-footed plows, etc. Build up your stability in each leg so that you can use the non-balance leg however you want!

5 reps on each leg as part of warm-up

Now go, be free, master your crossovers (and weight transfer).

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.

Leave a Reply