They look pretty cool, help you power out of corners and you can’t do your 27 in 5 without them. But, they can also be damn tricky to master.
Simply put, a crossover is when your legs cross over as you stride around the track. You use both your feet to ‘push’ and ‘pull’ on the floor to propel yourself forward and around the track. During a crossover, your weight shifts completely from one leg to the other and you will be momentarily on one leg.
Crossovers are essential for generating the speed you need for laps and hauling ass to score points as a jammer. Straight up strides are great for when travelling in a straight line, but crossovers help you skate around a bend and are more efficient use of your power coming out of the corners. In roller derby direction, you cross right foot over left, but you should practice going the “wrong” way too!
You need good hip flexibility, leg strength and balance to execute a great crossover, not to mention confidence.
How to do a crossover
- Take a wide approach towards inside apex of the track
- Split your stance so that your inside leg is most forward and near the line
- Make sure your butt is down and your knees are bent
- Lean into the corner, aiming to have your hips over the track boundary line
- Pick your outside leg up and step it over and in front of your inside leg
- As you do this, push under with your inside leg
- Uncross by stepping your inside leg back out as you push your outside leg back out to the side
Crossovers work best when skating in a diamond or circle shape around the track – wide on the straights, aiming for the outside line, then cutting back in tight to the apex before powering out towards the outside line again. It’s much harder to do powerful crossovers if you stay close to the inside line, it wastes a lot of energy and feels uncomfortable.
Tips for getting your first crossovers
- Practice sticky skating crossovers first – keeping all eight wheels on the floor, use your inner thigh and core muscles to bring your feet in towards each other, continue pushing until one foot crosses over in front and then pull them back out using your glutes and outer thighs. Continue the movement, swapping which leg crosses in front. Make sure your knees are bent and chest is up.
- Practice stepping overs – without any rolling, practice stepping one leg over the other as you travel laterally, trying to keep knees bent and chest up. As you get more confident, try making your steps wider and wider, it helps to get lower! Practice in both directions and make sure you’re pushing off with both skates.
- Practice one foot glides – get used to completely transferring your weight to each foot by gliding along the straights and around the corners on one leg. Keep your knees soft and eyes forward making sure to practice on both legs
- Practicing stepping around the corners – skate slowly around the track and as you come to an apex, split your stance so the leg closest to the inside is more forward. Sit down into your butt, bend your knees and get into a speed skater type stance. Lean your hips into the corner and start by just lifting your feet and stepping as you go around the corner. You don’t have to start crossing over completely, just get used to lifting one foot off the floor and gliding momentarily. Gradually start crossing your outside leg over as you get more confident.
- Focus on the outside leg pull – once you’re comfortable stepping, now it’s time to start putting in some power. As you set your outside foot down on the ground when you cross, focus on pulling it back in laterally, like you did with the sticky skating, and then pushing it out as far as it will go. Do it slowly and you will begin to feel the speed that can be generated by really pushing with this leg. As you feel more confident, start crossing your foot further over so that you have more floor to ‘pull’. The lower you are, the better!
- Add in the inside leg push/cross-under – a crossover involves both legs working, not just the outside one! As your outside leg is beginning to move laterally towards the outside of the track, lift up your inside leg and step towards the inside line. When your foot hits the ground, begin to push this leg into the ground and laterally behind (under) your outside leg as it’s about to crossover in front. Keep repeating the move so you are pulling with the outside leg, pushing with the inside leg. Bend your knees, make sure your butt is down and you will have more room to cross over. As you get more confident, increase how far you are are pushing out under your other leg.
As you can see, crossovers require a lot of balance, leg strength and mobility, so here is a workout designed to work on all the areas you need for crossovers:
Crossover Crush Workout
- 10 x Knee Highs L & R
- 10 x Hip Openers L & R
- 10 x Leg Swings L & R
- 30 seconds Grapevines
- 30 seconds Reverse Grapevines
- 30 seconds Stepping Speedskaters
Two Rounds: Strength
10 x Reverse Lunges L & R
- 10 x Forward Lunges L & R
- 20 x Alternating Reverse Crossover Lunges
- 10 x Curtsy Lunges L & R
- 60 seconds Skater Jumps
- 60 seconds Skater Jump + Hops
Stretches : Hold for 10-20 secs
- Inner Thigh Stretch
- Hamstring Stretch
- Hip Stretch
- Groin Stretch
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