Cross training helps you derby

So, you’ve got your skates and your pads and your helmet. You’ve even got a fancy newfangled bright green mouth guard. You are ready to play some roller derby, right?
What else do you need? Other than some awesome booty shorts and a cute pair of socks.
Well, you’re going to need endurance. Even if you aren’t a jammer. You need to exercise your lungs. While each jam lasts no more than two minutes, you may skate fifteen or more jams in a bout. Sometimes you might skate two jams in a row. Or every other jam for an entire period. You get the point. The middle of a jam is no time to realize you should have worked on your endurance.
You’re going to need muscle strength in your legs, your glutes (that’s your butt), your back, your core, as well as your upper body. You don’t need big biceps, but a strong back, core and shoulders will help you to bounce back from those hits.
You might have joined roller derby thinking that it would be good exercise; a good way to lose some weight, get fit, as well as kick some butt. But eventually, maybe after a particularly grueling endurance skate, or a short-handed scrimmage, you realize that you need more endurance. A lot more endurance. You need to work out to be able to play the kind of derby you want to play.
And, well, stuff happens in derby. It is a full contact sport. People get injured. But there are ways to improve your odds at avoiding or lessening a potentially play-ending injury.
You need to cross train. And while cross training doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get injured, it definitely can help.
The easiest way to understand cross training is to start with understanding what muscles you use for derby: quads and hamstrings, calves, glutes, and core. There are times when you are going to feel like you use every single muscle in your body, but those are the main ones. Cross training helps you strengthen those muscles as well as the surrounding muscles to make your overall body stronger. If you squat a lot (like we do in derby, or, rather, we should be doing in derby) your quads will get strong, but that doesn’t help your hamstrings. And you need the strength in your whole leg, not just half of it.
“Cross training limits the stress that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways,” says Tony Surace who is the Director of Sports Medicine at the Competitive EDGE Sports Performance at the Niagara Falls Medical Center. Back in 2006 Mia Mauler and Pastor Pat wrangled Tony into derby. At first he came to the bouts and evaluated injured players. He’s been around ever since and now provides athletic training services for our players and many other athletes in Western New York.
You might think that you’d rather skate than ride your bike; that skating will build your endurance and muscles for derby. And that’s what you want them for.
But if all you do is skate your body gets used to doing the same moves. Your muscles get strong, but they can also get stressed. Muscles like variety. They like to move in different ways. Varying your exercise routine (but not excluding derby) will actually help your muscles become stronger than if you only skated.
What do you mean you don’t have time outside of derby for more exercise? The next time your friend suggests a bike ride or a trip to the gym to lift some weights, say yes. When you’re skating a grueling endurance or an endless hitting drill, or using your entire body in a bout, you’ll thank that friend. Maybe you can even skate by giving her the thumbs up when you’ve been called lead jammer.