Monday, September 25, 2017

Foam Rolling

by Jade Bond
Photo Courtesy of Candii Crusher

Foam rolling—what the heck is it and why should I do it? Have you ever been so sore it hurts to just be alive? Want to learn how to soothe your sore derby-tired muscles and prevent injuries? I have a secret to share with you—foam rolling is your friend! Not only does it work out soreness post exercise, but it can be a good warm up for your muscles beforehand as well. You can buy a basic foam roller from Wal-Mart for about $10, or you can invest in a better quality roller at a sporting goods store for around $25.
Photo Courtesy of Candii Crusher

I first learned of foam rolling a few years back when I was teaching Zumba. I was teaching 3 or more classes per day, and my knees were killing me. My sports therapist told me to start foam rolling as my IT band was super tight and pulling my knees out of place. I took his advice and gave rolling a shot, but in the back of my head I didn’t believe him. I was so sure that something was very wrong with my painful knees. After a few weeks of foam rolling almost every day, I was pleasantly shocked— my pain was gone! Now I’m a believer, and I foam roll quite frequently. July 2014, I pulled my MCL at the same time that I tore my meniscus 5 minutes before one of our house games (now let me tell you that was a painful bummer). Three months later my knees were still hurting, but it was manageable pain when I foam rolled consistently. I made it through MADE Nationals, and I credit foam rolling with keeping me on my skates.
Photo Courtesy of Candii Crusher

Foam rolling, more technically known as self-myofascial release, puts pressure on sore muscles and reduces tightness, helping to aid in muscle recovery so that muscles get back to functioning normally. It releases tight trigger point areas that are hard to stretch out in other ways, as well as increasing blood flow to sore areas. In a sense, you are giving yourself a deep tissue message. Now let’s be honest here-in the beginning it can hurt to foam roll. Much like stretching sometimes is uncomfortable; foam rolling in the beginning can be very painful. Using your roller regularly will help—it stops hurting so much and actually feels really good afterward.
Photo Courtesy of Candii Crusher

How do I foam roll you may be asking? There are myriads of videos on YouTube showing you exactly how; essentially you are using your own body weight to work on your muscles. At first it may feel awkward and weird and you will wonder if you are doing it right. It gets easier with time, and I am happy to show you how to roll at practices. I generally foam roll my legs every day when my knees are bothering me; otherwise, I try to do it on days of heavy exercise (like after derby practice!). You should roll fairly slowly, and you can even “sit” on a tight muscle for 5-10 seconds, holding it before you roll it out. Rolling a specific area for more than one minute is not recommended, as that can lead to more soreness. You don’t ever want to roll a bone or a joint—only muscle. If it hurts too much to roll a specific muscle, roll the areas around it—that will still help loosen up the offending area. With foam rolling, much like stretching you might feel some “good” pain but it shouldn’t be excruciating. Always listen to your body, and always talk to your doctor about any pain or health concerns you may have. Once you’ve been at it for a few weeks, your muscles should feel looser and less sore after foam rolling. Try to work it into your workout days—much like stretching, rolling can prevent injury and help you keep in tip-top shape for derby!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sore vs. Hurt vs. Injured

by Mojo GoGo

You are about to become an athlete. Wait! Don’t freak out and run away. It is okay, it won’t happen overnight. And we will help you.

You will not be expected to bench press 250lbs and run a 4 minute mile on the first day. Probably not the last day either. But you are starting a journey that will change you. For some of you, this training may not be too strenuous at first. Perhaps you already work out on a regular basis. For some, this will be a whole new world of physical effort, not to mention a test of willpower.
Photo By KC Derby Digest
While being athletic will help you during this training, willpower and determination are what makes you a roller derby skater. As Rocky said, “It ain’t how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up.” And you are going to fall a lot, because falling means you are pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and improving your skill. It also means that you are exposing your body to soreness and possibly getting hurt or injured.

Being sore after a workout is normal, it means you are pushing yourself a little further than you are used to. Your muscles respond to vigorous use by secreting Lactic acid during a workout. Lactic acid is what makes your muscles feel like they are burning while you are skating. Upping your exercise is what causes “micro tears” (these are considered a good thing in building muscle and are not to be confused with a large scale tissue tear which is an injury) in your muscles which, in turn, is what causes soreness after working out. One of the reasons you need to drink a lot of water and sometimes replenish electrolytes after skating is to help wash away the Lactic acid your muscles have expelled and help the muscle healing/inflammation process that occurs in the next 24-48 hours.

Once training starts, even if you already have a consistent workout regime, you will find that there are some derby specific drills that make your muscles sore – especially the muscles you didn’t even know you had! You might be tempted to skip Wednesday practices if Tuesday practice made you sore. We encourage you not to do this! First, you only get 2 chances to attend practice a week and skipping Wednesday practice takes away half of your opportunity to improve your skills. And second, you can work through the soreness by exercising the second day. The body is an amazingly adaptive structure that acclimates quickly to your new fitness level. Soon you will find that the muscle soreness and congestion is less and less after every work out, and you look forward to the second consecutive day of practice.

However, it is important to recognize the difference between normal soreness and a potential problem. You will no doubt wrestle with some issue or another connected with beginning a new exercise regime. The key is recognizing when you should push through and when you should stop, and you are the only judge on that. If something is sore, try to push through, but if you feel a sudden or sharp pain, or something that does not go away with rest, get yourself checked out.

The next level above soreness is being hurt. Hurt is generally short lived but intense. Hurt is different than sore because it is not a natural part of working out. Hurt means something has gone wrong temporarily, but you can probably treat it yourself. It hurts when you fall on your knees and the knee pad has slipped so instead of landing on padding you land on hard track, or perhaps you unintentionally land on your own skate. It doesn’t feel good and it causes you to stop and take a minute to recover but it generally won’t put you out of skating for the rest of the practice, or if it does, you will feel better pretty quickly and be back at practices soon.

Injured is different situation. Injured means something has gone wrong and generally has long term ramifications. Injured is a concussion, broken bone, torn ligament or the like. Injured puts you out of practice for more than a few days. You probably don’t need to be told that if you think you are injured you need to seek qualified medical help.

There is a fine line between hurt and injured and sometimes hurt starts out feeling like injured and vise-versa. The key is to listen to your body and know yourself. If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is and it is in your best interest to get it checked out. Better to be safe and catch a problem early when it can be handled on a small scale than to ignore the problem and have it turn into something that keeps you off skates for an extended time.

Be safe on the track! Make sure to give yourself a break when you sense that something doesn’t feel right. Don’t hesitate to let your coach or trainer know what is going on and ask for assistance if need be.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Making the Most of Open Skates

by Veruc Assault

First off, awesome job for attending an Open Skate Session! The more time you spend on your skates, the more comfortable you will get on them!
When attending open skate, it is always a smart idea to wear your protective gear.
If you do not have gear at this time, take it easy! Some of the activities may be out of your comfort zone without proper protection, so work on getting comfortable rolling first and foremost. There will be plenty of time later for trick spins and jumps when you are geared up!
At open/session skates, the rinks provide games to entertain the skaters. A few of those games can actually help you practice your derby skills.

Red Light/Green Light

The object of this game is to listen to the caller, wait for them to call “Green Light,” skate fast! When the caller shouts “Red Light,” all movement must cease. The person to make it to the end of the rink first wins. This works on attentiveness, starts, stops, and falls. Use your toe stop runs to take off when “Green Light” is called. When “Red Light” is called you can use t-stops, plow stops or reverse toe stops. (All of these stops will be explained and taught during recruitment training!) However, the fastest way to stop is to practice one of your falls. Baseball slides and one knee falls work well with this game. Knee pads are really helpful, as no one wants bruised knees!


The Dice Game

The rink guard puts out four to six cones. Everyone starts skating in a counterclockwise direction when the music starts. When the music stops, you must find the nearest cone and stop! This is a great way to practice t-stops, plow stops, and reverse toe stops.

The Limbo

How low can you go?  You’ll have to bend those knees!

Cha Cha Slide/Hokey Pokey

Get out there and enjoy these with the kids! It will help you with stepping and lateral movements. Keep your head up while moving your feet from side to side. On the Cha Cha Slide you will work on your hopping on skates.

Speed Skate

The rink guard sets up two cones and splits the skaters by by age and/or gender. Then skaters are allowed to skate as fast as they can around the two cones for a song or two. This will test your endurance, and you will be able to practice your crossovers! Always try to catch up with the person in front of you. Keep going and don’t stop! You can do it!


Always remember that there will be people around you. Some of those people are little and are using skate mates. Avoid them at all costs. You don’t want to plow into a small child. You also need to watch out for the people skating the opposite direction then they should be. Always follow the rink rules and listen to the floor guards.
Lastly, Friday nights are usually teen nights. They are very crowded. It is good practice for weaving and avoiding unexpected falling objects.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Meet the Trainers!

Meet the Trainers!
Teams: Shotgun Sheilas (skater)
The Untouchables (coach)
Head of the Training Committee
Teams: Shotgun Sheilas
Usual Suspects
Head of Recruitment
Slithery Snake
Team: The Untouchables 
Sissy Facecheck
Team: Deadly Sirens
Ginger Ninja
Team: Deadly Sirens and the Usual Suspects
Valkyrie and Ewing
Val plays for the Royal Pains and
Ewing skates for the Untouchables
Teams: Deadly Siren and the Untouchables
Ensane Gwen
Team: Shotgun Sheilas

Team: Royal Pains
Oversees Recruitment and Training

Mel Breakdown
Team: Royal Pains

Teams: Shotgun Sheilas
Usual Suspects

Parks N Wreck
Teams: Shotgun Sheilas
The Untouchables

Striking Dervish
Coach: Deadly Sirens

Texas Outlaw
Teams: Lovely Lethals
The Usual Suspects

Teams: Deadly Sirens
Usual Suspects

Teams: Shotgun Sheilas and the Public Enemies

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Week 1 - Roller Derby Basics

by Striking Dervish

Week 1 of our boot camp is dedicated to learning how to skate forward with proper form, fall safely, and stop in the first “derby” stop. These elements are essential to learn before anything else, because skating and derby stance are the building blocks for all other derby skills, and we must safely fall and stop throughout training.

Derby Stance

Derby stance is the ideal stance for skating and performing most skills in derby. It ensures proper balance for skating technique as well as (and especially for) taking a hit. Standing straight up on the track is a sure way to get knocked down quickly.
In many things that you do during derby practice, you might find yourself losing balance. Fight the urge to stand straight up to catch your balance. Instead, remind yourself to sit into your derby stance, and you will find your balance much quicker.
For more information about derby stance, including proper form and exercises you can do off skates to work on it, please see The Basics: Derby Stance.

Moving Forward


Watermelons involve leaving all eight wheels on the floor while moving forward. Start by putting your feet in a V shape with heels together. With your weight mostly in the balls of your feet, push your feet outward. Once your feet are approximately shoulder-width apart, pull your feet back inward using your thigh muscles (not by pulling your knees together) until you have reset your feet next to each other. The entire movement should form an oval shape (or watermelon). Repeat the movement, making sure that the feet come back together in between. This position with your feet together is where you will get the power to make the next watermelon. As you get comfortable with the motion, try gaining momentum with several in a row. This can also be practiced at open skates. Don’t forget your derby stance!
The ability to keep up momentum with all eight wheels on the floor becomes especially important when skating within a pack. Making strides by picking up your feet can be a tripping hazard when other skaters are nearby.

One-Legged Glides

The ability to balance on one foot is very important for skating and derby. We practice one-legged glides for this reason.
Make sure to gain some momentum either with watermelons or strides (see below). Once you have some speed, be sure to lean over the base leg before attempting to lift your other leg.
Your knees should remain soft while doing a one legged glide. If you lock out your base leg, you will struggle with balance. Also remember to keep most of your weight in the balls of your feet so as not to fall backward and to keep your core engaged so as not to bobble back and forth.
Speed and leg placement make this skill easier. Make sure you are travelling fast enough before picking up your foot, and hold your knee at hip height to bring the weight of your foot closer to your center of gravity.
You can practice your one-legged glides at open skates. Try to increase the distance you can keep your leg up. You will be tested on the ability to glide for the full length of the track.


While skating forward normally, you should practice proper form of strides to maximize your pushes forward.
To do so, push your foot down into the floor and back at a 45-degree angle, leaving all four wheels on the floor as long as possible. The stride ends with a slight flick of the foot just off the floor, with the wheel under the big toe being the last to leave the floor.
During the stride, your weight should be over the supporting leg so that it is easy to finish the stride off of the floor with the pushing leg. If you are having trouble with this balance, try pushing with ONLY one foot, thinking of your base leg’s skate as a skateboard.
Finish by bringing the pushing foot back to the starting position so that both feet are together. This is extremely important to find this position between strides in order to get the full push in your next stride.
Again, don’t forget your derby stance! You will get a longer stride the lower you sit into your stance, and therefore, a stronger push forward.  Your knees should never lock out, and your upper body should not move a lot during the stride. While striding forward, your arms should easily move at your sides just like you are walking.
Example of good stride form
From the front:

From the back:


Falling = Learning

Please try to remember this while you are training. In order to learn new things, you will have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. That will often involve losing your balance and falling. Even the best roller derby skater falls and will not think less of you for doing so as well. We know it means that you are learning and striving to do so. We practice falling safely for this reason.

Falling Forward

Generally speaking, derby skaters want to fall forward to make use of their knee pads, as opposed to falling backward on unpadded areas. Staying on the balls of the feet while moving forward and staying low (derby stance) will encourage falling forward. See below for specific knee falls that we practice to encourage falling “small” and controlled on the track. When we practice these, we commit them to muscle memory and are less likely to sprawl on the track (safety for all) or fall on unintended body parts (personal safety).

Falling Backward

Sometimes falling backward is unavoidable. If you find yourself falling backward, make a quick decision to PICK A CHEEK! This means trying to fall slightly to one side so that you are landing on your natural butt padding instead of straight down on the tailbone. Remember that staying on the balls of your feet while moving forward will help discourage falling backward. If you find that you are often falling backward, check yourself while skating to make sure that you are not rocking back on your heels.

Practice Falls

One-Knee Fall

The one-knee fall is the first and most basic fall we learn. It involves setting one knee on the floor and using the friction of your knee pad to come to a stop. Proper form involves the following.
  • Having both legs at a 90-degree angle. Do not sit back onto your skates!
  • Having your shin parallel to the floor. In other words, you should be using the front of your kneepad, not the top.
  • Keeping your upper body straight and controlled. This involves tightening your core as you fall. (Think of engaging your abs and squeezing your glutes.)
  • Keeping your hands off of the floor. Always, always, always try to keep your hands off the floor so that your fingers don’t get rolled over by another skater.
While you are learning, you might set your hands on your thighs in order to control yourself downward. Eventually, you should build up your thigh and core muscles enough to avoid using your hands and keep them at your sides.
For practicing one-knee falls, be sure to come to a complete stop. You should be able to get up within 3 seconds from the stop for testing purposes. Ideally, you will be:
  • Looking around you before getting up (practicing track awareness).
  • Remaining stable without bobbling back and forth.
  • Pushing upward with your weight over the front skate.
  • Avoiding using your hands while getting up.
  • Immediately transitioning into skating forward once up.
Please note that setting your front toe stop down can be beneficial for balance when getting up and readiness for getting skating again. We will talk more about toe-stop starts in Week 3.
If you need some extra help in getting up for now, you can put your hands on your front thigh to push downward. You will eventually want to gain enough strength in your core and legs to avoid using your hands. One way to build up this strength is to practices lunges off skates.
Be sure to practice your one-knee falls on both legs!

Double-Knee Fall

A double-knee fall is used when a fall has more momentum than could be handled with a single-knee fall. It involves landing on both knees but still remaining controlled.
To fall on your knees, you should be rolling over the top of your skates. Staying in derby stance will encourage a controlled fall because your knees will be closer to the floor. Do not jump into the fall or fall straight onto both knees.
Your knees should not make contact at the same time. Make sure you hear a separated “tap-tap” to avoid landing too hard on your knees.
Keep your upper body controlled while you fall by engaging your core. You should not be sitting or leaning back into your skates, but should be leaning back slightly to avoid falling forward.
To get up, there are a couple of options.
  1. Pick up one foot and set it on the floor to get up in the same manner as your one-knee fall. Be sure not to bring your foot around the side of your body (a tripping hazard and a danger to yourself and other skaters). Instead, bring it through underneath your body.
  2. Set your hands in a diamond shape in front of you. It is important that your hands remain within the width of your own body to avoid the possibility of another skater rolling over your hands. While leaning onto your hands in front of you, hop up onto both toe stops near your hands, and stand up on your toe stops. This is similar to the motion used when standing up from a burpee.
Whichever method you use to get up, you should strive to do so within 3 seconds of coming to a complete stop. Always be sure to look around you before getting up to practice track awareness.

Four-Point Fall

A four-point fall comes into play when a fall has so much forward momentum that you must catch yourself from splaying out on the floor or falling on your face. Practicing this fall encourages falling “small” and controlled.
In a similar manner to the double-knee fall, you will still be rolling over the top of your skates to avoid slamming onto your knees. This will be followed quickly by a fall forward to the elbows and wrists. (In this way, you can think of it as a six-point fall despite its actual name). In order to properly simulate the application of when you would use this fall (when your momentum is pulling you forward toward your face), the transition from your knees to your elbows and wrists should be one continuous motion, as opposed to landing on your knees and then falling over to your elbows and wrists.
Always practice looking around before lifting your body. This is done to simulate track application when a skater might be coming toward you, and it would be important to stay small. Be sure to keep your fingers off the floor (point of contact is at the wrists, not at the fingers) until you look around and know that it is safe to get up.
To get up, you can use one of the two methods previously described for the double-knee falls.


In roller derby, we do not stop by dragging our toe stop behind us as we were taught to do as kids at the roller rink.  To do so would be a tripping hazard with so many people in close proximity on the track.  Instead, we use a variety of roller derby stops, the first of which we learn is called the T-Stop.


In order to execute a T-stop, shift your weight onto one leg and turn your free leg so that your toe is pointed to the outside of your body.  You will then gently set it on the ground about a foot directly behind the base foot and pull it in towards your base foot while gradually applying pressure downwards on all four wheels to provide enough friction to slow to a stop.  Be especially careful not to tilt your foot so that you are only making contact with the two wheels closest to your front foot; this is a good way to turn your ankle!  The end position should form a capital T with the foot behind perpendicular and centered on the front foot.  Be sure to keep your knees soft while completing this skill.  It is very common to lock out your legs and stand straight up, but this will hinder balance.  


Please ensure that you can perform these skills well, as they are essential for the rest of your training! All of these skills can be practiced at open skates with some care given to the space of others. Make sure you are wearing your safety gear when doing so!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Skating Outdoors/Outdoor Locations

by Ginger Ninja

Fall weather is perfect outdoor skating weather! Fresh, cool air, the rink to yourself (if you’re lucky), some music…that’s the good stuff. To help you take advantage of this beautiful weather and work on your skills at the same time, we’ve compiled a list of outdoor skating spots around Kansas City. There are wheels made specifically for outdoor use that are softer and can handle debris that you may encounter on an outdoor track. Such wheels can be purchased at Derby4All KC. Some skaters just use old wheels they had retired from regular, indoor use. Like all things derby gear, it is preference, but it is not recommended that you use your current set of indoor wheels as they may get damaged during outdoor skating.  Always make sure you are padded up when practicing your skating and derby skills!
Pick a spot, grab your gear, and get your outside skate on!

Holmes Park

Holmes Road & East 70th Street – Kansas City, MO

Listowel Park

7111 Quivira Rd – Shawnee, Kansas

Howard Park

3498 NE Independence – Lee’s Summit, MO

Wheel Park

Macken Park, North Kansas City, MO
Wheel Park has a really nice, paved trail that is perfect for skating. Poker Haunches, a former Deadly Siren, skates there frequently and has figured that 2 laps is about one mile.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Knee Strengthening

Knees are important!  Making them stronger is something that is needed for roller derby.  They will take a beating, but here are some exercises to help strengthen them up.

Roller Derby Athletics has a Happy Knees Training video.  It's short and sweet and fairly easy.  Take a view at it here or over on YouTube.

Here is a short routine that you can use as an off skates warm up:
  • Marching in place – 30 seconds
  • Lunges – 15 reps each side
  • Lateral lunges – 15 reps each side
  • Skater squats – 15 reps
  • Step ups – 15 reps
  • Prone hamstring curls – 15 reps each side
  • Russian hamstring curls – 10 reps
  • Calf raises – 15 reps
  • Scissor jumps – 15 reps
Each exercise should take around 30 seconds.  Set aside 15 minutes to get three rounds in. 

Remember to invest in some nice, cushy knee pads.  While we practice falls, please remember to fall softly and to not slam your knees on the ground; a nice tap-tap will work out well.

Your knees are going to be with you for a long time after derby, take care of them now.

Foam Rolling

by Jade Bond Photo Courtesy of Candii Crusher Foam rolling—what the heck is it and why should I do it? Have you ever been so sore it...