So You Want to Learn How To: OWN YOUR WHEELS

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.


Surprisingly (or not…), owning your wheels comes down to two words: WEIGHT TRANSFER. Sound familiar? It should because learning how to transfer your weight across your foot and down into the sides of your skate and the edges of your wheels is the KEY TO EVERYTHING. EVER.

But balance and core stability play a big part in this too. Anytime you practice owning your wheels outside of the confines of practice, you need to be focused on keeping your core braced to avoid letting that wobble up top cause a fall on your ass down below.


Fatigue through your core makes you floppy and things that flop around have a harder time staying upright. Unless you’re a weeble.

Learning how to properly engage your core and keep tension through it as you work on dynamic movements will translate directly to less fatigue on the track. Which means less sloppy play. And less penalties. Probably. Maybe.

Practice bracing your core a few times before you start the other drills. Periodically, as you do everything else, check yourself. Is your core still braced? Is the rest of your body still engaged? If not, fix it.


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.

2 sets of 5 reps on each leg (1 rep = all 4 taps in the video)

OWN YOUR WHEELS (part one)!

While this might look like a simple on-skates exercise, it’s really a mental exercise as well. As you start doing your slow steps, you need to be thinking about where you weight is transferring as you move.

If you feel your wheels slip out from under you or roll away, STOP. (Collaborate and listen.) What happened that caused you to lose control of your wheels?

  • Are you not low enough?
  • Did you let your core disengage?
  • Are your feet starting too close together or far apart?
  • Are you trucks too tight or too loose?

1 minute of each exercise in both directions (side steps, crossover step in front, crossover step behind, grapevine, stopped transitions)

OWN YOUR WHEELS (part two)!

When stepping becomes easier for you and you are picking up speed, it’s time to start running. You’ll need to expand your space a little bit for this because you’ll likely take slightly larger steps as you add power.

Running is going to mimic how you would move on the track. If you need to cover space to block an opposing jammer quickly or sneak out of the pack on that inside line, you’re going to need to push through each foot hard and haul ass. That’s the goal here.

Again, anytime you lose control, STOP, assess, adjust, continue.

1 minute of each exercise in both directions (side steps, crossover step in front, crossover step behind, grapevine, stopped transitions)

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