4 Steps to a Perfect Plow

Can you dig it?

There’s no skill more crucial to roller derby than plow stops. Love them or hate them, plows are here to stay. If you’re here to stay too, you better nail that plow.

Execute your strongest plow in four simple steps:

Simple not easy.

01. Start Low: Start in the ready position. This means assuming a bent knee stance with hips in a 1/2 to 1/4 squat. Moments matter in jammer attacks! If you’re low to begin with, you’ll already ready to plow.

02. Shift Weight: Like most roller derby skills, plows are executed with each leg operating independently of the other. Hold about 80% of your body weight on your support leg. The free leg then executes the plow.

03. Half Heart: Make a heart shape with the plowing leg. That means that your feet begin at about parallel, then the plowing foot moves a teensy tiny bit outward but mostly forward, with the toes pointing toward the midline of your body (pigeon-style). Reminder that if your roller skates are pointing forward, you will roll forward.

04. Edge Dig: Push your plowing foot forward, emphasizing pressure on your edges. Try digging into your inside wheel edges first. It’s easier to get that sound on the inside edges. Next, try putting the pressure on your outside edge. It’s harder, so don’t fret if you don’t get it on the first attempts, but it rewards you with fuller chatter to match its forceful stop.

Love your plow.

Still Having Trouble?

It feels like my movements are right, but I’m not getting the chatter. Two options here. First, adjust the pressure on your plowing foot and see what gives your aural gratification. Second, try harder wheels. Seriously: that’s a cheat code. It works.

My hip/foot/ankle doesn’t move that way. Flexibility training for you, friend. Roll out the offending area or the whole darn chain. (Yes, rolling the hip flexor looks like humping the floor.) Try mobility work to increase your hip’s internal rotation too. Sitting deeper into the plow helps too.

My strength and/or balance isn’t ready for this yet. How can I crosstrain plow skills? Lucky for us all, my internet BFF Prime of Iron Octopus Fitness wrote a blog post on this very topic.

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