Skills Review

This week we’re having a look at those all important skating skills.

It can feel a little overwhelming when you first start at the sheer volume of skating skills you need to play roller derby, and, in particular to pass those pesky and dreaded “minimum skills.” But these are the foundation to becoming a great player and from time to time it’s always good to look back and assess how far you’ve come!

So what are the skate skills that confound people the most?

Coco and Shock ‘N’ Awedrey both agree that Crossovers caused the most contention; even to the point of tears! (we’ve all been there!)

Many would agree and certainly Yan Dam, Tricerapops, Stop! Hannah Time and Apex Twin all feel that Transitions are the trickiest.

Apex Twin says “I nearly failed my first freshies as I just couldn’t spin. I was doing hard 180 corners instead. It took a free skate session where I just tried it for over an hour. Gradually I’d feel like I was getting closer to doing a transition, even if I was still failing each time. And then suddenly I did one. And didn’t fall over! Then another. Then another. Then another. They weren’t elegant at all. Especially on my weaker side. But I’d learned it enough to be able to pass min skills test the next week.”


Photo courtesy of Martyn Boston

Stop! Hannah Time points out how difficult transitions can be, particularly at speed! “I thought I’d never be able to transition, particularly at speed, it took so long to master due to an intense fear of dislocating my easily-dislocatable knee. Now I can transition at any speed without a second thought (right, at least – still struggle left!) and I’m not even sure how it happened!”


Barney Trouble feels it’s all a state of mind when it comes to Derby Stops. He said “I couldn’t get my head around doing a transition and then stopping in two separate movements – I kept wanting to stop as I turned but as soon as I broke it down, something clicked and now I find it’s the easiest stop.”

Nothing takes more commitment and endurance then 27/5 and it’s something many people have to really work towards and continue to maintain. The Atkins Riot says “25 in 5 as it was back then – took ages. It took a lot for me to pass it as nerves would kick in and I’d stack it.

I had to do a lot of work on my general fitness as I just didn’t have the stamina or strength to maintain good skating technique and consistent crossovers with good underpush for 25 laps.”

And for everyone still struggling with 27/5 she advises; “I looked at the most efficient racing line and how to be wide on the straights to minimise deceleration on the corners. Then, I relaxed and focused on skating slow but with good technique down the straights with 2 strong crossovers on each corner which then minimised the effort I needed to use on the straights. After that, 25 in 5 was a piece of piss and I quickly progressed to hit 27, then 29 and more.”

Circle Jerk identified one of the tricker skating techniques; moving on toe stops. He says, “Moving on toe stops was an absolute nightmare for all of Fresh Meat but now I find it really easy. Having skates that now fit might have helped!”

You may have already noticed but there are many ways to stop when skating; and I don’t just mean falling over! Cherry Revenge and Lemmy Atom look at the other ways you can stop. Cherry Revenge talks about Hockey stops. She says, “I still struggle with hockey stops. I can only really go one way. I practice them a lot too, and some sessions get really good at it. Then the skill disappears, really frustrating!”


Photo courtesy of Pete Florey


You might be familiar with this one; it’s one of the first stops you’ll learn! Lemmy Atom said “Plow stops were my nemesis for the best part of 18 months. Turns out having wheels that are too grippy can really hamper you when you aren’t sure if your technique is good. The first time I tried to plow in hard wheels was a miraculous revelation actually being able to do it.”

You might have realised there are a very many skills to learn and the general consensus is practice! practice! practice! It’s always worth looking at your kit and seeing what tweaks you can make but it’s important to remember it’s the person that makes an excellent skater first. The more you advance the more the equipment is there to support your technique. Which brings us nicely onto our final look at skills, for the skaters who aren’t quite there yet, spare a thought for our very own Skate Plissken. Bless his heart he struggles with 360 apex jumps… I know right?

Whilst some of us are still getting the courage to do a tiny apex hop; Skate Plissken says he struggles with; “…a 360 apex jump that lands in front of an escaped jammer, on corner 2 with a slight pack movement so I’m able to Skate Plissken all along the 2nd straight, Plisskissing all the while!”


Photo courtesy of Pete Florey