The Basics: Derby Stance

Published by Ginger Ninja on

Roller Derby Basics

The Basics: Derby Stance

What is Derby Stance? Derby Stance: The basic body position that provides stability, speed, agility and power when playing roller derby. Balance is crucial in roller derby! Bending your knees, tightening your core and keeping your head up are keys to balancing in derby stance.

How to Execute Derby Stance

  • Squat down. Your feet and knees should be shoulder width apart, balancing your weight between your feet.
  • Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. They should be directly above your skates.
  • Hold your back straight.
  • Open your chest up, making sure your shoulders are pressed back.
  • Your shoulders, knees, and toes should all lineup.
  • Get LOW! Getting low will let your legs work as shock absorbers when you get hit and help stabilize your body.

Why Derby Stance is Amazing:

  • It’s harder to fall.
  • If you do fall, you will most likely fall on your protected knees.
  • You can skate faster.
  • You can execute a proper crossover.
Roller Derby Basics

How to Practice Derby Stance at Open Skate

Start out by skating one lap at regular speed. Once that lap is completed, sprint half a lap (you don’t have to go incredibly fast, just enough that you will not stop while you are coasting). After you have sprinted half a lap, squat into proper derby stance position and coast half a lap maintaining derby stance and not lifting your skates off of the ground. After you have made it half a lap, sprint again for half a lap, then repeat derby stance for a half a lap. Continue doing this for a lap or two. You will figure out on your own why they are called leg burners. Remember to keep your hands at your sides to avoid supporting yourself with your arms.

Phase 2: While in derby stance, move your feet apart and together repeatedly without your wheels leaving the floor in order to continue to propel yourself while in derby stance instead of just coasting. We call these “watermelons,” and it requires using the muscles of your inner thighs and outer glutes to maintain speed. These muscles are extremely important in roller derby! See how far you can continue this stance without stopping or standing upright.

How to Practice Derby Stance at Home

Wall Sits

Sit with your back against the wall and your thighs parallel to the ground. Keeping your back flat against the wall, hold the position for 30-60 seconds, release and rest for 30 seconds, then repeat. Keep your hands at your sides! Though this is not exact derby stance (since your weight is leaning backward), it will work the leg muscles necessary for derby stance.

Plain Old Squats

Execute a derby stance, bending your knees to 90 degrees, keeping your feet and knees shoulder width apart and your hands at your sides. Hold for a moment and stand up again. Repeat for a set of 10. Repeat for 2-3 sets.
If you are uncertain if you are getting low enough, try using a chair. It should be at the proper height for you to sit in with your legs at 90 degrees. Perform your squats by standing 6 inches in front of the chair and barely touching the seat while squatting.

Common Mistakes

Are you actually getting low?

Many skaters will think that they are getting low, but they are actually bending at the waist instead of at the knees. Focus on getting your thighs close to parallel with the floor. Your back should not be!

The Difference Between Speed Skating and Derby Skating

People with speed skating experience will often revert to speed skating stance, bending over at the waist. This is fine for going fast, but once hitting is introduced, the skater will be less balanced to take a hit.

Knee Pain

If your knees start hurting and it feels like the knee cap is being pulled to the outside, it is because you aren’t getting low enough to engage the hamstrings properly so the three front muscles are pulling the cap out of place. You may not feel it is natural to bend more, but it actually helps to alleviate the pain.

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