Ready for action

“Get low.” Who in roller derby hasn’t heard that advice a couple two-three-thousand times? The truth is, success in all sports begins with the ready position. But what is this elusive posture, why is it important, and what do coaches mean when they talk about “derby position”?

Athletic position is A Thing in just about every sport. But when using conventional sports wisdom, it’s crucial that we understand how roller derby is similar to other sports yet is also a special snowflake.

Like most sports, our ready position needs to balance stability with agility and prepare us to make quick, powerful movements on a moment’s notice. However, in derby, the action usually comes from behind us (jammer coming!) rather than happening up in front of us.

Imagine assuming a three-point football stance, but for roller derby. (This looks like how you imagine football players to start.) Your torso is forward, the weight in the balls of your feet, and your butt is parallel to the ground. The moment the jammer makes contact with you, you’re gonna roll forward, quickly, just as that stance is designed to allow.

So we instead use an athletic ready position that works for roller derby — one that minimizes our forward movement, as well as provides stability, quickness, power, agility, and fast reactions — so we can better control space and time. Here’s how:

Drill: Finding Your Strong Stance

  • Get in your regular derby ready position — on OR off skates!
  • Take inventory: Where is your weight? Mostly on left leg? Right leg? In the balls of the feet? Heels? Where is your torso? Up? Tipped forward? How far? Raise your hands overhead. Try leaning forward, then lifting your torso up. Which feels more stable? Less likely to roll forward? Most able to allow quick movement?
  • Partner up. Get in your derby ready position and Have your partner push you with small popping pushes from all sides at hips, shoulders, torso, wherever. They can use their hands or their bodies to push. Absorb their impact but hold your space. Figure out what works for you, then switch to return the favor!

Remember, your stance is your foundation for future derby success! Build it from a position of strength.