4 Reasons To Use Your Practice Time For PRACTICING

Over the past few weeks on social media, I’ve been sharing my (unasked for) opinion about what teams do with their on-skates training time.

I never preface my opinions with exceptions to the rule or caveats. But those things exist because every league is different. Every skater is different. Every skill and knowledge level on every team all over the world is different.

In fact most of training, whether on-skates or off, requires the same answer to nearly every question: IT DEPENDS.

  • It depends on how much time you have.
  • It depends on how much equipment you have.
  • It depends on who you have on your team.
  • It depends on what your goals are.
  • It depends on where your team is at.
  • It depends on where YOU are at.

That being said, for the majority of teams out there, the following statement applies:


Everyone should train off-skates (you can read more HERE and HERE). I just don’t think that off-skates training needs to happen during practice time.

Here are the reasons why:

This reason applies solely to time.

Let’s face it, most teams do have limited track time at venues where they pay A LOT just to skate. There is no reason to waste the time you are paying for to do things you could do anywhere else. Like places that are free. Parks, garages, the middle of the street. Wherever really.

If your team wants to do organized off-skates training together, fine. GREAT. Just don’t do it during your precious track time. Meet 30 minutes before hand in the parking lot and do it there. Or schedule a time on a different day to get together and crush an off-skates workout.

Yes. I do realize how hard of a sell that is. Sorry.

Most teams are filled with a Goldilocksian mix of skaters: some train too much, some train too little, and some train just right.

Those skaters that don’t train AT ALL are probably the reason that you’re implementing some of this off-skates training anyway. But, unless you’re one of the teams that owns their own warehouse with a gym attached, the type of off-skates training you can do during practice — and how long you can do it for — might be making the situation worse.

Look at it this way. The skaters that don’t train probably know that they should. By providing 15-30 minutes for training off-skate once or twice a week, they get tricked into thinking that they are. That guilt that normally sits heavy on them for not training is assuaged.

And, while I don’t normally think using guilt as a motivation tool is a great idea, THOSE SKATERS NEED TO TRAIN and you want them to realize that. Not assume that they already are.

You can do a lot of great and valuable exercises using just bodyweight. But the exercises that will most improve your roller derby skill aren’t just bodyweight.

Bodyweight training is great for beginning exercisers to teach them HOW to move their bodies and build in some of the automatic movement patterns. Eventually, though, greater resistance needs to be added. Or you need access to a bench or a step.

Not things that most teams have access to in general and definitely not within their practice space.

This is my biggest sticking point with teams that try to design their own off-skates programs. It takes a lot of knowledge and practice to build a program that can suit and ENTIRE TEAM full of people.

The person running the practice needs to know how to:

  • pregress and regress exercises (i.e. make them harder or easier).
  • recognize good and bad form.
  • correct bad form.
  • choose exercises that complement skating.
  • keep the group moving.

Running practices is hard. Running group exercise programs is hard. And they are not the same skill set.

Learning to skate and learning to train are two completely different skill sets.

A coach that can run an effective practice with a good flow might not know the first thing about programming exercises in an effective manner. But the team trusts them to do so which often leads to cobbling together things that seem hard or that the coach saw done somewhere else once.

If your team REALLY wants to do off-skates training during practice time, then find someone knowledgable to help you. Tell that person your goals as a team. And make sure that you’re actually using that time in an effective manner.


It’s absolutely true that doing off-skates is important. It’s true that increasing the number of people on your team doing it can help reduce injuries. It’s true that it improves your game.

But ineffective off-skates training can cause just the opposite.

And you also wasted all that time when you could have been skating.

Stay tuned.

I’m working on some generalized training programs teams can use to encourage their skaters to train outside of practice. (Or DURING practice, if you absolutely have to.)

Tell your newer skaters about my Stability & Mobility Program to get them started off on the right foot. Er, skate.


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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