Roller derby is a sport that demands a lot from the legs. Ask any roller derby player which exercise is key to improving your game and they’re likely to say, “Squats.”
This exercise is great, not only because it makes your glutes look fantastic, but because it works to strengthen most of the muscles in your lower body.
Squats are an easy exercise that can be done with or without weights and varied to increase intensity and target specific leg muscles.
We’ll talk about the basic squat and two variations fit for roller derby.
How to do the Basic Squat:
Stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest facing forward and lower your hips while bending your knees in the same movement you would sit in a chair. You should have your thighs parallel or lower to the ground.
- You should not be bending forward in a bowing motion–keep a neutral back and face forward.
- Clasp your hands together in front of your chest to help keep your chest up during the squat.
- Sit back on your squat so your bent knees don’t go past your toes.
Feel free to add a barbell or dumbbells to make the basic squat more of a challenge.
Recommended rep ranges: 2 or 3 sets of 15
Squat Variations for Roller Derby
The two squat variations that would be beneficial to roller derby are one-legged skater squats and squat jumps.
As the name suggests, this variation of the squat focuses on the strength and balance of the legs during a skater’s stride.
How to do a Skater Squat:
Balance on one leg and bend the knee of the other leg about 90 degrees behind you. Focus your bodyweight on the heel of the straight leg. While leaning forward a bit, lower your hips and bend the balance leg. You can bend as low as you are able to and return to the start position. A thick pad or BOSU Balance Trainer can be used to lower your bent leg onto during the squat.
Recommended rep ranges: 2 sets of 10 on each leg
Useful Video for Skater Squats:
This is a basic squat that includes a jump to improve muscle endurance after several repetitions.
How to do a Squat Jump:
Begin with the basic squat. Once you are in the lowered position with your knees bent, tighten your core
muscle and use your legs to push off into a jump. Maintain good squat form when you land and lower your body back into the start position.
Recommended rep ranges: 3 sets of 10
Useful Video for Squat Jumps:
The Benefits of Squats for Roller Derby
Your skating form will improve, allowing you to skate faster. The roller derby lingo “get into derby stance” refers to lowering the body’s center of gravity to balance and maximize speed when skating. It’s basically doing a squat. The lower your “derby stance” or squat, the better you will do overall.
You will build core strength at the same time. When you lower yourself into any kind of squat, you engage your cores muscles as well. Having a strong core is crucial to balance recovery in roller derby. It allows you to absorb hits and maintain your position without falling over.
It will give you confidence when performing quick moves. Most roller derby moves are based on stability and power. Squats can help build up that explosive power you need to shoulder check someone in a game. Spinning around opponents is easy and natural when you are confident you won’t fall because your squats keep you low and stable.
The main parts of our body that we use to maintain balance and stability are our core and legs. Squats target both of these areas. In roller derby, the last thing you want to do as a player is fall over.
That’s why building up the strength, balance, and power through squats will greatly improve your overall technique and form when playing roller derby.