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Endurance Training Tips for Roller Derby

written by: Sylvie Colette • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 5/20/2011

Although each roller derby jam is only 2 minutes long, those 120 seconds require energy reserves that can only come from increasing your stamina. Learning these endurance training tips for roller derby will help prevent injury and keep you on the track.

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    Becoming a more competitive player is not the only reason for wanting to increase your endurance on the track. Injuries occur when your body starts struggling to keep up. Controlling your body's reaction time is essential to keeping yourself safe when playing roller derby.

    Roller derby is a tough sport. It requires short bursts of all-out energy, muscle control and focused attention. Being able to run for an hour is one thing; being able to endure being knocked down and getting back into the pack quickly is another.

    Endurance training tips for roller derby include both aerobic exercises to increase your lung capacity and muscle training tips that help build endurance.

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    Off the Track Training Tips

    There are several ways to increase endurance without strapping on the skates. Roller derby teams generally hold two to three practices each week; this is not enough to sufficiently build endurance. Try the following in a gym, or at home.

    Cardio Equipment

    • Choose a piece of cardio equipment: treadmill, bike, elliptical machine.
    • Warm up for about five minutes at a steady pace.
    • Increase the speed to a good training pace
    • After two minutes, up the resistance and work out hard. If you cannot adjust the resistance, then increase you speed or intensity.
    • Reduce the resistance or speed to your original training pace, and catch your breath.
    • Do another interval of intense training for two minutes and 15 seconds.
    • Continue increasing the length of the intense training until your workout is over.
    • Cool down and know you just made great strides in increasing your endurance.

    Jump Rope

    • Jump rope for five minutes
    • Break for one minute
    • Jump again for six minutes and repeat.
    • A simple jump roping session is deceptively difficult and will do wonders for your lung capacity.

    Plyometric Training

    • Use a plyometric DVD; P90X is an effective and challenging program
    • On your own, you can do a series of squat jumps by jumping onto and over a box. This generates force and creates rapid muscle development.
    • Push up, then clap or go from a wide stance to a narrow stance each time you perform a repetition.
    • Mini trampolines offer benefits and can be used while watching your favorite TV program.

    Running, Bicycling or Inline Skating

    • As in the cardio example above, do a series of sprint drills either on foot, on your bike or with inline skates
    • Quad rollerskates can be used, but be sure to change your wheels and skate in an area free from any debris. Inline skates tend to do better on running trails.
    • Maintain a steady pace when not sprinting.
    • Gradually increase the time spent sprinting and your overall time doing cardio to avoid stress injuries.

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    Muscle Building Activities

    Strengthening your large muscles does wonders for your skating endurance. While the above cardio exercises will increase lung capacity and overall fitness level, muscle building will give you more power and energy reserves.

    Squat Swing

    • Place your feet 6"-12" apart
    • Slightly bend your knees
    • Keep your hands at your side
    • Do a regular squat, but while you are getting into the squat position, swing one arm forward and one arm back.
    • Come back up and have your arms swing the opposite way, like you are walking.
    • Hold in place with both arms behind you every 5 or 10 reps.
    • Jump as high as you can at the end of the hold.
    • Start from the beginning. This should cause a burn in your thighs.

    Wall Sit

    • Stand with your back against the wall
    • Slide your back down while walking your feet away until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your shins should be parallel to the wall.
    • Doing this exercise near a mirror, or having someone check you, is a good idea. This ensures that your legs are in proper position.
    • Stay there as still as you can until your legs shake
    • Stay there a little longer.
    • Okay, now rest. This exercise will cause your legs to shake and it is also a test of patience.

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    Endurance Drills on Skates

    An important thing to remember when working out in a group is to pace yourself. Endurance will come in time. Everyone progresses at a different pace and comes into roller derby at a different fitness level. With that being said, introduce these drills alone, or in a group.


    • Skate sets of 7 laps.
    • Start with 6 at an average pace, last one sprint all out.
    • Do 5 at an average pace, then sprint two all out.
    • Continue until you are doing seven sprinted laps


    • Starting at one end, sprint 1/3 of the length.
    • Stop and touch the floor and sprint back
    • Sprint to the 2/3 point, touch the floor and sprint back
    • Sprint the full length, touch and return
    • Then sprint 2/3, touch the floor and return
    • Then sprint 1/3, touch the floor and return

    Leg Burners

    • After either of these drills do a round of leg burners
    • Sprint one lap
    • Hold in derby stance, or squat position, until 2/3 of the way around the track
    • Sprint and hold again
    • Repeat for 20 laps or so